Molecular Biocontrol & Gene Editing
The cherry vinegar fly, Drosophila suzukii, is a worldwide high-invasive fruit pest that originated in Southeast Asia and has been spreading rapidly since 2007 in Europe and the US. D. suzukii predominantly affects soft fruits and stone fruits and is adapted to cool regions. To date, there is no effective and sustainable method of combating it. Due to the infestation of the fruits shortly before the harvest, even insecticides are only conditionally usable. Initial estimates of crop losses in America are estimated at over $ 500 million in just three states.
A remedy is to come by the principle of the so-called sterile insect technique (SIT) with the help of transgenic D. suzukii strains. The classic SIT is based on the mass release of sterile male conspecifics to reduce the wild-type population. The Fraunhofer Attract Group is developing environmentally friendly sex separation and male sterility technologies for the cherry vinegar fly, as both aspects are essential for a successful SIT program against D. suzukii. The systems will be used after extensive testing in integrated pest control programs along with other technologies.
- Pest control of Drosophila suzukii
- Sterile insect technique
- Environmentally friendly population control
Risk Assessment of transgenic insects
The Emmy Noether Group is engaged in the control of pest insects. On the one hand, there are important agricultural pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, which causes billions of dollars worth of damage worldwide without any control programs. On the other hand, mosquito species such as the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti are being researched. Aedes alone causes about 100,000 yellow fever infections and leads to 22,000 deaths per year.
Insecticides and pesticides are predominantly used to control insects, but they can have adverse effects on humans and nature and often lead to the formation of resistance. A promising and environmentally friendly alternative and supplement is the sterile insect technology (SIT). It is based on the mass release of sterile male conspecifics to reduce the wild-type population. New genetic approaches open up many opportunities to improve SIT programs. To increase the safety of transgenic systems and to be able to compare different systems, the Emmy Noether Group is developing technologies for the transgenic stabilization and risk assessment of transgenic insects at Justus-Liebig University Giessen.
- Risk assessment of transgenic insects
- Evaluation of transgenic technologies for agricultural pests and mosquitoes
- Development of molecular biological systems for transgene stabilization