Recent advances in threshold-dependent gene drives for mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya, cause morbidity and mortality around the world. Recent advances in gene drives have produced control methods that could theoretically modify all populations of a disease vector, from a single release, making whole species less able to transmit pathogens. This ability has caused both excitement, at the prospect of global eradication of mosquito-borne diseases, and concern around safeguards. Drive mechanisms that require individuals to be released at high frequency before genes will spread can therefore be desirable as they are potentially localised and reversible. These include underdominance-based strategies and use of the reproductive parasite Wolbachia Here, we review recent advances in practical applications and mathematical analyses of these threshold-dependent gene drives with a focus on implementation in Aedes aegypti, highlighting their mechanisms and the role of fitness costs on introduction frequencies. Drawing on the parallels between these systems offers useful insights into practical, controlled application of localised drives, and allows us to assess the requirements needed for gene drive reversal.

Trim content

® The Pirbright Institute 2019 | A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 559784. The Institute is also a registered charity.