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A discussion about the molecular genetics of homing gene drives disrupting doublesex gene, as well as its potential and challenges in the D. suzukii population control.
The CRISPR/Cas9-based homing ‘gene drive’ has emerged as a revolutionary genetic-based method that holds great promise for control of insect pests. Insect pests pose a significant risk to global crop loss, food security, and public health. In recent years, considerable progress has been made in the field of modern gene-drive which advances our understanding of its genetic and molecular mechanisms, biocontainment strategies, potential risks, and challenges. Using the genome-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, Amarish has successfully developed and evaluated a split (biosafe) homing gene-drive which disrupts doublesex gene for the population control of an agricultural pest, Drosophila suzukii. The initial homing gene drive strains he made showed dominant female sterility and biased inheritance of up to 70%. The drive construct was modified such that females were dominant fertile (recessive sterile) and the Cas9 construct re-engineered using D. suzukii components. The final split-homing gene-drive strains showed 94-99% biased inheritance of the engineered genetic element and recessive female sterility.
In his talk, Amarish will discuss the molecular genetics of the homing gene drives disrupting doublesex gene, as well as its potential and challenges in the D. suzukii population suppression.
Dr. Amarish Yadav is a postdoctoral research scholar in Prof. Max Scott’s laboratory at NC State University, where he has been working on the development of genetic-based pest control methods such as homing gene drives and evaluating safeguards in the agricultural pest spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii). His doctoral research at Banaras Hindu University in India was to investigate the genetic and molecular aspects of cancer progression linked to the loss of cell-polarity regulators function in Drosophila melanogaster. During his postdoctoral research at NC State, using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, he developed the first split homing gene drive in spotted wing drosophila which targets doublesex, a gene essential for female fly development. In addition, he has generated various transgenics and eye-color mutants to be useful in the D. suzukii genetics research. Amarish is currently assessing the population-suppression potential of gene drive strains at laboratory scale as well as the influence of different genetic backgrounds on the gene drive efficiency in this pest.
GES Colloquium is jointly taught by Drs. Jen Baltzegar and Dawn Rodriguez-Ward, who you may contact with any class-specific questions. Colloquium will be held in person in the 1911 Building, room 129, and live-streamed via Zoom.