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As. Pac. J. Mol. Biol. & Biotech., June 2010 Vol. 18, 275-295

Review: Genetic Improvements to the Sterile Insect Technique for Agricultural Pests

N.I. Morrison1*, M. Koukidou1, G. Franz2, T.A. Miller3, G. Saccone4, G.S. Simmons5, L.S. Alphey1,6, L.C. Polito7, J. Nagaraju8

1Oxitec Ltd, 71 Milton Park, Oxford OX14 4RX, UK;
2Insect Pest Control Laboratory, Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria;
3Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA;
4Department of Biological Science, Genetics and Molecular Biology Section, Via Mezzocannone 8, Naples, Italy;
5USDA-APHIS-PPQ-CPHST, 7697 Highway 1, Building 20, Moss Landing CA 95039-9672, USA;
6Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK;
7Institute of Genetics and Biophysics “A. Buzzati-Traverso”, Naples, Italy;
8Fingerprinting & Diagnostics (CDFD/CSIR), ECIL Rd, Nacharam, Hyderabad 500076, India.

*Author for Correspondence.
Oxitec Ltd, 71 Milton Park, Oxford OX14 4RX, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)1235 832 393,
Fax: +44 (0)1235 861 138,
E-mail: neil.morrison@oxitec.com.

The sterile insect technique (SIT) relies on area-wide mass-releases of sterile male pest insects, which mate with their wild counterparts and thereby cause a drop in the wild population. In order to improve SIT efficacy or to avoid potential negative effects of such releases, strains of insects have been developed by genetic means. Methods of strain improvement fall into two categories: those generated by classical genetics and those through transgenesis. Here, we describe development and successes of agriculturally important pest insect strains developed through the former, and how transgenic technology is offering a broad spectrum of potential improvements to SIT in a wider range of insects. Also discussed are future prospects and non-technical challenges faced by transgenic technology. The need for environment-friendly pest control methods in agriculture has never been more pressing. SIT and related technologies offer a solution with proven effectiveness.

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