A new paper published on 8 January in Nature Communications describes a ‘precision-guided sterile insect technique’ that can effectively alter insect genes to control female viability and male fertility. The method could potentially be used to suppress increasing pest populations that threaten agricultural crops and to prevent the transmission of deadly diseases. The controllable, noninvasive CRISPR-based genetic technology could be transferred across species and adopted around the world.
The sterile insect technique has been used to control insect populations since the mid-1930, typically by using DNA-damaging agents to sterilise males in order to reduce their overall fitness and mating competitiveness. This has gradually transformed into the new field called ‘Active Genetics,’ aimed at global solutions to improve agriculture, combat vector-borne diseases, and control invasive species. Read more