Homing Endonuclease Genes: New Tools for Mosquito Population Engineering and Control
The inability to ensure that newly introduced genes will become established within regional mosquito populations has been a major roadblock to the advancement of genetic strategies for vector control. Dr. Burt and his colleagues are investigating homing endonuclease genes (HEGs), so-called "parasitic" genes that can spread rapidly through mosquito populations even if they harm the host insect. This gives HEGs the potential to move newly introduced traits, such as sterility or inability to transmit disease, through a population quickly. The project's ultimate goal is to develop HEGs as a flexible, robust, powerful, and safe system to drive useful traits through populations of mosquitoes that transmit malaria.