Potential Use of a Conditional Lethal Transgenic Pink Bollworm Pectinophora gossypiella in Area-Wide Eradication or Suppression Programmes

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The sterile insect technique (SIT) has been used successfully for over 30 years to keep a large cotton growing area in the Central Valley of California, USA free of the pink bollworm Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders). Releases of sterile pink bollworm as part of an integrated pest management programme were recently carried out on 36 400 hectares of cotton in Texas, New Mexico and northern Mexico for the eradication of this pest. The sterile releases will soon be expanded into Arizona and California. To achieve eradication and continue to effectively operate the Central Valley containment programme, a more effective and lower cost programme is needed. Irradiation of pink bollworm with a sterilizing dose greatly reduces mating competitiveness and the development of a conditionally lethal strain of pink bollworm as an alternative or supplement to sterilization by irradiation may allow a more effective and less costly programme.Apink bollworm strain carrying a conditionally lethal gene was recently developed using the “release of insects with a dominant lethal mutation” (RIDL) technology, and larval mortality levels ranging from 60 to 92% have been obtained in laboratory tests.With further development, a strain of pink bollworm carrying a conditionally lethal gene may serve as a complete replacement for radiationbased sterility, or as a supplement to the traditional SIT by providing a genetic sexing mechanism, a safeguard against accidental release, or as a means for lowering the radiation dose to produce a more competitive insect.

KEYWORDS autocidal biological control, RIDL, Lepidoptera, effects of radiation, pink bollworm, eradication