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CRISPR/Cas9 Mediated Editing of the white (wh) locus Affects Body Size and Reproduction of the Oriental Fruit Fly, Bactocera dorsalis (Hendel)

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The Oriental fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) is a highly significant, invasive pest of fruits which severely affect the global fruit trade. The advent of CRISPR/Cas9 has opened up new avenues for developing futurist management approaches as standalone or complementing other approaches. In this context, numerous earlier studies have documented the mutation of the white locus in B. dorsalis. Studies on Drosophila melanogaster and D. suzukii demonstrated that the white locus (wh) plays a crucial role in pigmentation and various other physiological functions like reproduction. Therefore, in the present study, we have generated a homozygous white eye mutants (wh−/−) bearing a four base pair deletion and studied the possible effects on the biological attributes such as reproductive fitness and body size as compared to the wild flies. A single pair of adults produced significantly lesser offsprings (5.80 ± 3.67 pupae) in the cross involving wh−/−♀ × wh−/−♂ than in the WT♀ × WT♂ cross (21.80 ± 3.91 pupae). The morphometric analysis showed that wh−/− individuals exhibited a reduced overall body size compared to wild-type males and females. Also, there was an overall increase in the life cycle of wh−/− individuals (23.20 ± 0.47 days) as compared to WT individuals (19.20 ± 0.51 days). This study provides comprehensive insights into the effects of the white gene mutation and provide potential avenues for future research on devising novel management strategies against B. dorsalis.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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The authors express their sincere gratitude to the Director, ICAR-IIHR for support and facilities. The current research work has been carried out of the funding received from the ICAR-CABin project and is highly acknowledged. First author and second author acknowledge the ICAR-JRF/SRF and DST-INSPIRE fellowships, respectively for their doctoral studies. The corresponding author is thankful to Dr. Max J. Scott and Dr. AmarishYadav, Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA, for training on genome editing. All the authors greatly acknowledge Dr. P. Mahendiran, Senior Scientist, ICAR‐NBAIR, for imaging the flies.

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Authors and Affiliations



Chikmagalur Nagaraja Bhargava: Writing-original draft; formal analysis; investigation; validation; software; data curation. Karuppannasamy Ashok: Investigation; validation; formal analysis. Ramasamy Asokan: Conceptualization; methodology; project administration; writing-review and editing; funding acquisition; visualization. Karakatti Prasad Babu: methodology; Madhusoodanan Sujatha Parvathy: investigation; validation. Dhawane Yogi: investigation; validation; Thalooru Shashikala: investigation; validation; Rampura Kidinethra Chiranth: investigation; Ulligundam Ashok: investigation; Chowdenalli Gangadharaiah Harsha: investigation. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

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Correspondence to Ramasamy Asokan.

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Bhargava, C.N., Ashok, K., Asokan, R. et al. CRISPR/Cas9 Mediated Editing of the white (wh) locus Affects Body Size and Reproduction of the Oriental Fruit Fly, Bactocera dorsalis (Hendel). Agric Res (2024).

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