Major efforts are currently underway to develop novel, complementary methods to combat mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquito genetic control strategies (GCSs) have become an increasingly important area of research on account of their species-specificity, track record in targeting agricultural insect pests, and their environmentally non-polluting nature. A number of programs targeting Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes, vectors of human arboviruses and malaria respectively, are currently being developed or deployed in many parts of the world. Operationally implementing these technologies on a large scale however, beyond proof-of-concept pilot programs, is hampered by the absence of adequate sex separation methods. Sex separation eliminates females in the laboratory from male mosquitoes prior to release. Despite the need for sex separation for the control of mosquitoes, there have been limited efforts in recent years in developing systems that are fit-for-purpose. In this special issue of Parasites and Vectors we report on the progress of the global Coordinated Research Program on "Exploring genetic, molecular, mechanical and behavioural methods for sex separation in mosquitoes" that is led by the Insect Pest Control Subprogramme of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture with the specific aim of building efficient sex separation systems for mosquito species. In an effort to overcome current barriers we briefly highlight what we believe are the three main reasons why progress has been so slow in developing appropriate sex separation systems: the availability of methods that are not scalable, the difficulty of building the ideal genetic systems and, finally, the lack of research efforts in this area.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank Mark Q Benedict for his expert review and comment to our manuscript. We also would like to thank all participants of the Research Coordination Meetings of the Coordinated Research Project on "Exploring Genetic, Molecular, Mechanical and Behavioural Methods of Sex Separation in Mosquitoes", and local organizers during the meetings in Vienna, Tapachula, Juazeiro and Bangkok. The meetings were immensely stimulating and fun. Publication costs for this study was provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of the Coordinated Research Project "Exploring genetic, molecular, mechanical and behavioural methods of sex separation in mosquitoes".
© 2018 The Author(s).
- Gene drive
- Genetic control
- Genetic sexing strains
- Sex separation
- Sterile insect technique