The application of self-limiting transgenic insects in managing resistance in experimental metapopulations.
ABSTRACT: The mass release of transgenic insects carrying female lethal self-limiting genes can reduce pest insect populations. Substantial releases are also a novel resistance management tool, since wild type alleles conferring susceptibility to pesticides can dilute resistance alleles in target populations. However, a potential barrier is the need for large-scale area-wide releases. Here, we address whether localized releases of transgenic insects could provide an alternative means of population suppression and resistance management, without serious loss of efficacy.We used experimental mesocosms constituting insect metapopulations to explore the evolution of resistance to the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin Cry1Ac in a high-dose/refugia landscape in the insect Plutella xylostella. We ran two selection experiments, the first compared the efficacy of "everywhere" releases and negative controls to a spatially density-dependent or "whack-a-mole" strategy that concentrated release of transgenic insects in subpopulations with elevated resistance. The second experiment tested the relative efficacy of whack-a-mole and everywhere releases under spatially homogenous and heterogeneous selection pressure.The whack-a-mole releases were less effective than everywhere releases in terms of slowing the evolution of resistance, which, in the first experiment, largely prevented the evolution of resistance. In contrast to predictions, heterogeneous whack-a-mole releases were no more effective under heterogeneous selection pressure. Heterogeneous selection pressure did, however, reduce total insect population sizes.Whack-a-mole releases provided early population suppression, indistinguishable from homogeneous everywhere releases. However, insect population densities tracked the evolution of resistance in this system, as phenotypic resistance provides access to additional diet containing the toxin Cry1Ac. Thus, as resistance levels diverged between treatments, carrying capacities and population sizes increased under the whack-a-mole approach. Synthesis and applications. Spatially density-dependent releases of transgenic insects, particularly those targeting source populations at a landscape level, could suppress pest populations in the absence of blanket area-wide releases. The benefits of self-limiting transgenic insects were reduced in spatially localized releases, suggesting that they are not ideal for "spot" treatment of resistance problems. Nevertheless, spatially homogeneous or heterogeneous releases could be used to support other resistance management interventions.
Project description:Suppression of dengue and malaria through releases of genetically engineered mosquitoes might soon become feasible. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying a conditionally lethal transgene have recently been used to suppress local vector populations in small-scale field releases. Prior to releases of transgenic insects on a wider scale, however, most regulatory authorities will require additional evidence that suppression will be effective in natural heterogeneous habitats. We use a spatially explicit stochastic model of an Ae. aegypti population in Iquitos, Peru, along with an uncertainty analysis of its predictions, to quantitatively assess the outcome of varied operational approaches for releases of transgenic strains with conditional death of females. We show that population elimination might be an unrealistic objective in heterogeneous populations. We demonstrate that substantial suppression can nonetheless be achieved if releases are deployed in a uniform spatial pattern using strains combining multiple lethal elements, illustrating the importance of detailed spatial models for guiding genetic mosquito control strategies.
Project description:Making the diagnosis of functional movement disorders can be challenging. Identifying positive physical signs and diagnostic maneuvers is critical to this process. Distractibility, entrainability, and variability are examples of classic physical findings in these patients. In this case series, we identify and characterize another phenomenon observed in some of these patients. In this phenomenon, movement suppression of one body part is followed by immediate reemergence of movement in another. We propose that this phenomenon be referred to as the "whack-a-mole" sign. This name is derived from the arcade game whack-a-mole, in which a mole, when hit into its original hole, re-emerges elsewhere. We present a case series of 4 patients with functional movement disorders who exhibit this sign.
Project description:Ecological decision problems, such as those encountered in agriculture, often require managing conflicts between short-term costs and long-term benefits. Dynamic programming is an ideal method for optimally solving such problems but agricultural problems are often subject to additional complexities that produce state spaces intractable to exact solutions. In contrast, look-ahead policies, a class of approximate dynamic programming (ADP) algorithm, may attempt to solve problems of arbitrary magnitude. However, these algorithms focus on a temporally truncated caricature of the full decision problem over a defined planning horizon and as such are not guaranteed to suggest optimal actions. Thus, look-ahead policies may offer promising means of addressing detail-rich ecological decision problems but may not be capable of fully utilizing the information available to them, especially in scenarios where the best short- and long-term solutions may differ. We constructed and applied look-ahead policies to the management of a hypothetical, stage-structured, continually reproducing, agricultural insect pest. The management objective was to minimize the combined costs of management actions and crop damage over a 16-week growing season. The manager could elect to utilize insecticidal sprays or one of six release ratios of male-selecting transgenic insects where the release ratio determines the number of transgenic insects to be released for each wild-type male insect in the population. Complicating matters was the expression of insecticide resistance at non-trivial frequencies in the pest population. We assessed the extent to which look-ahead policies were able to recognize the potential threat of insecticide resistance and successfully integrate insecticides and transgenic releases to capitalize upon their respective benefits. Look-ahead policies were competent at anticipating and responding to ecological and economic information. Policies with longer planning horizons made fewer, better-timed insecticidal sprays and made more frequent transgenic releases, which consequently facilitated lower resistance allele frequencies. However, look-ahead policies were ultimately inefficient resistance managers, and directly responded to resistance only when it was dominant and prevalent. Effective long-term agricultural management requires the capacity to anticipate and respond to the evolution of resistance. Look-ahead policies can accommodate all the information pertinent to making the best long-term decision but may lack the perspective to actually do so.
Project description:Due to the importance of chitinolytic enzymes for insect, nematode and fungal growth, they are receiving attention concerning their development as biopesticides or chemical defense proteins in transgenic plants and as microbial biocontrol agents. Targeting chitin associated with the extracellular matrices or cell wall by insect chitinases may be an effective approach for controlling pest insects and pathogenic fungi. The ability of chitinases to attack and digest chitin in the peritrophic matrix or exoskeleton raises the possibility to use them as insect control method. In this study, an insect chitinase cDNA from cotton leaf worm (Spodoptera littoralis) has been synthesized. Transgenic maize plant system was used to improve its tolerance against insects. Insect chitinase transcripts and proteins were expressed in transgenic maize plants. The functional integrity and expression of chitinase in progenies of the transgenic plants were confirmed by insect bioassays. The bioassays using transgenic corn plants against corn borer (Sesamia cretica) revealed that ~50% of the insects reared on transgenic corn plants died, suggesting that transgenic maize plants have enhanced resistance against S. cretica.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Rice (Oryza sativa) productivity is adversely impacted by numerous biotic and abiotic factors. An approximate 52% of the global production of rice is lost annually owing to the damage caused by biotic factors, of which approximately 21% is attributed to the attack of insect pests. In this paper we report the isolation, cloning and characterization of Allium sativum leaf agglutinin (asal) gene, and its expression in elite indica rice cultivars using Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation method. The stable transgenic lines, expressing ASAL, showed explicit resistance against major sap-sucking pests. RESULTS: Allium sativum leaf lectin gene (asal), coding for mannose binding homodimeric protein (ASAL) from garlic plants, has been isolated and introduced into elite indica rice cultivars susceptible to sap-sucking insects, viz., brown planthopper (BPH), green leafhopper (GLH) and whitebacked planthopper (WBPH). Embryogenic calli of rice were co-cultivated with Agrobacterium harbouring pSB111 super-binary vector comprising garlic lectin gene asal along with the herbicide resistance gene bar, both under the control of CaMV35S promoter. PCR and Southern blot analyses confirmed stable integration of transgenes into the genomes of rice plants. Northern and western blot analyses revealed expression of ASAL in different transgenic rice lines. In primary transformants, the level of ASAL protein, as estimated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, varied between 0.74% and 1.45% of the total soluble proteins. In planta insect bioassays on transgenic rice lines revealed potent entomotoxic effects of ASAL on BPH, GLH and WBPH insects, as evidenced by significant decreases in the survival, development and fecundity of the insects. CONCLUSION: In planta insect bioassays were carried out on asal transgenic rice lines employing standard screening techniques followed in conventional breeding for selection of insect resistant plants. The ASAL expressing rice plants, bestowed with high entomotoxic effects, imparted appreciable resistance against three major sap-sucking insects. Our results amply demonstrate that transgenic indica rice harbouring asal exhibit surpassing resistance against BPH, GLH and WBPH insects. The prototypic asal transgenic rice lines appear promising for direct commercial cultivation besides serving as a potential genetic resource in recombination breeding.
Project description:Two basic strategies have been proposed for using transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to decrease dengue virus transmission: population reduction and population replacement. Here we model releases of a strain of Ae. aegypti carrying both a gene causing conditional adult female mortality and a gene blocking virus transmission into a wild population to assess whether such releases could reduce the number of competent vectors. We find this "reduce and replace" strategy can decrease the frequency of competent vectors below 50% two years after releases end. Therefore, this combined approach appears preferable to releasing a strain carrying only a female-killing gene, which is likely to merely result in temporary population suppression. However, the fixation of anti-pathogen genes in the population is unlikely. Genetic drift at small population sizes and the spatially heterogeneous nature of the population recovery after releases end prevent complete replacement of the competent vector population. Furthermore, releasing more individuals can be counter-productive in the face of immigration by wild-type mosquitoes, as greater population reduction amplifies the impact wild-type migrants have on the long-term frequency of the anti-pathogen gene. We expect the results presented here to give pause to expectations for driving an anti-pathogen construct to fixation by relying on releasing individuals carrying this two-gene construct. Nevertheless, in some dengue-endemic environments, a spatially heterogeneous decrease in competent vectors may still facilitate decreasing disease incidence.
Project description:To evolve rice varieties resistant to different groups of insect pests a fusion gene, comprising DI and DII domains of Bt Cry1Ac and carbohydrate binding domain of garlic lectin (ASAL), was constructed. Transgenic rice lines were generated and evaluated to assess the efficacy of Cry1Ac::ASAL fusion protein against three major pests, viz., yellow stem borer (YSB), leaf folder (LF) and brown planthopper (BPH). Molecular analyses of transgenic plants revealed stable integration and expression of the fusion gene. In planta insect bioassays on transgenics disclosed enhanced levels of resistance compared to the control plants. High insect mortality of YSB, LF and BPH was observed on transgenics compared to that of control plants. Furthermore, honeydew assays revealed significant decreases in the feeding ability of BPH on transgenic plants as compared to the controls. Ligand blot analysis, using BPH insects fed on cry1Ac::asal transgenic rice plants, revealed a modified receptor protein-binding pattern owing to its ability to bind to additional receptors in insects. The overall results authenticate that Cry1Ac::ASAL protein is endowed with remarkable entomotoxic effects against major lepidopteran and hemipteran insects. As such, the fusion gene appears promising and can be introduced into various other crops to control multiple insect pests.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Release of virus-blocking Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes is an emerging disease control strategy that aims to control dengue and other arboviral infections. Early entomological data and modelling analyses have suggested promising outcomes, and wMel Wolbachia releases are now ongoing or planned in 12 countries. To help inform government, donor, or philanthropist decisions on scale-up beyond single city releases, we assessed this technology's cost-effectiveness under alternative programmatic options. METHODS:Using costing data from existing Wolbachia releases, previous dynamic model-based estimates of Wolbachia effectiveness, and a spatially explicit model of release and surveillance requirements, we predicted the costs and effectiveness of the ongoing programme in Yogyakarta City and three new hypothetical programmes in Yogyakarta Special Autonomous Region, Jakarta, and Bali. RESULTS:We predicted Wolbachia to be a highly cost-effective intervention when deployed in high-density urban areas with gross cost-effectiveness below $1500 per DALY averted. When offsets from the health system and societal perspective were included, such programmes even became cost saving over 10-year time horizons with favourable benefit-cost ratios of 1.35 to 3.40. Sequencing Wolbachia releases over 10 years could reduce programme costs by approximately 38% compared to simultaneous releases everywhere, but also delays the benefits. Even if unexpected challenges occurred during deployment, such as emergence of resistance in the medium-term or low effective coverage, Wolbachia would remain a cost-saving intervention. CONCLUSIONS:Wolbachia releases in high-density urban areas are expected to be highly cost-effective and could potentially be the first cost-saving intervention for dengue. Sites with strong public health infrastructure, fiscal capacity, and community support should be prioritised.
Project description:BACKGROUND: RNA silencing is an important mechanism for regulation of endogenous gene expression and defense against genomic intruders in plants. This natural defense system was adopted to generate virus-resistant plants even before the mechanism of RNA silencing was unveiled. With the clarification of that mechanism, transgenic antiviral plants were developed that expressed artificial virus-specific hairpin RNAs (hpRNAs) or microRNAs (amiRNAs) in host plants. Previous works also showed that plant-mediated RNA silencing technology could be a practical method for constructing insect-resistant plants by expressing hpRNAs targeting essential genes of insects. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, we chose aphid Myzus persicae of order Hemiptera as a target insect. To screen for aphid genes vulnerable to attack by plant-mediated RNA silencing to establish plant aphid resistance, we selected nine genes of M. persicae as silencing targets, and constructed their hpRNA-expressing vectors. For the acetylcholinesterase 2 coding gene (MpAChE2), two amiRNA-expressing vectors were also constructed. The vectors were transformed into tobacco plants (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Xanti). Insect challenge assays showed that most of the transgenic plants gained aphid resistance, among which those expressing hpRNAs targeting V-type proton ATPase subunit E-like (V-ATPaseE) or tubulin folding cofactor D (TBCD) genes displayed stronger aphicidal activity. The transgenic plants expressing amiRNAs targeting two different sites in the MpAChE2 gene exhibited better aphid resistance than the plants expressing MpAChE2-specific hpRNA. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our results indicated that plant-mediated insect-RNA silencing might be an effective way to develop plants resistant to insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts, and both the selection of vulnerable target genes and the biogenetic type of the small RNAs were crucial for the effectiveness of aphid control. The expression of insect-specific amiRNA is a promising and preferable approach to engineer plants resistant to aphids and, possibly, to other plant-infesting insects.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Insects have developed resistance against Bt-transgenic plants. A multi-barrier defense system to weaken their resistance development is now necessary. One such approach is to use fusion protein genes to increase resistance in plants by introducing more Bt genes in combination. The locating the target protein at the point of insect attack will be more effective. It will not mean that the non-green parts of the plants are free of toxic proteins, but it will inflict more damage on the insects because they are at maximum activity in the green parts of plants. RESULTS: Successful cloning was achieved by the amplification of Cry2A, Cry1Ac, and a transit peptide. The appropriate polymerase chain reaction amplification and digested products confirmed that Cry1Ac and Cry2A were successfully cloned in the correct orientation. The appearance of a blue color in sections of infiltrated leaves after 72 hours confirmed the successful expression of the construct in the plant expression system. The overall transformation efficiency was calculated to be 0.7%. The amplification of Cry1Ac-Cry2A and Tp2 showed the successful integration of target genes into the genome of cotton plants. A maximum of 0.673 ?g/g tissue of Cry1Ac and 0.568 ?g/g tissue of Cry2A was observed in transgenic plants. We obtained 100% mortality in the target insect after 72 hours of feeding the 2nd instar larvae with transgenic plants. The appearance of a yellow color in transgenic cross sections, while absent in the control, through phase contrast microscopy indicated chloroplast localization of the target protein. CONCLUSION: Locating the target protein at the point of insect attack increases insect mortality when compared with that of other transgenic plants. The results of this study will also be of great value from a biosafety point of view.