(Accessed 27 Mar 2021)
Double drives and private alleles for localised population genetic control
Katie Willis, Austin Burt
Research Article | published 23 Mar 2021 PLOS Genetics
Some disease vectors, invasive species, and other pests cannot be satisfactorily controlled with existing interventions, and new methods are required. Synthetic gene drive systems that are able to spread though populations because they are inherited at a greater-than-Mendelian rate have the potential to form the basis for new, highly efficient pest control measures. The most efficient such strategies use natural gene flow to spread a construct throughout a species’ range, but if control is only desired in a particular location then these approaches may not be appropriate. As some of the most promising gene drive designs use nucleases to target specific DNA sequences, it ought to be possible to exploit sequence differences between target and non-target populations to restrict the spread and impact of a gene drive. In this paper we propose using two-construct “double drive” designs that exploit pre-existing sequence differences between target and non-target populations. Our approaches maintain the efficiencies associated with only small release rates being needed and can work if the differentiated locus is selectively neutral and if the differentiation is far from complete, and therefore expand the range of options to be considered in developing genetic approaches to control pest species.