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Malar J. 2009 Nov 16;8 Suppl 2:S4. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-S2-S4.

Colonisation and mass rearing: learning from others.

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  • 1Entomology Unit, FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory, IAEA Laboratories, A-2444 Seibersdorf, Austria.


Mosquitoes, just as other insects produced for the sterile insect technique (SIT), are subjected to several unnatural processes including laboratory colonisation and large-scale factory production. After these processes, sterile male mosquitoes must perform the natural task of locating and mating with wild females. Therefore, the colonisation and production processes must preserve characters necessary for these functions. Fortunately, in contrast to natural selection which favours a suite of characteristics that improve overall fitness, colonisation and production practices for SIT strive to maximize only the few qualities that are necessary to effectively control populations. However, there is considerable uncertainty about some of the appropriate characteristics due to the lack of data. Development of biological products for other applications suggest that it is possible to identify and modify competitiveness characteristics in order to produce competitive mass produced sterile mosquitoes. This goal has been pursued--and sometimes achieved--by mosquito colonisation, production, and studies that have linked these characteristics to field performance. Parallels are drawn to studies in other insect SIT programmes and aquaculture which serve as vital technical reference points for mass-production of mosquitoes, most of whose development occurs--and characteristics of which are determined--in an aquatic environment. Poorly understood areas that require further study are numerous: diet, mass handling and genetic and physiological factors that influence mating competitiveness. Compromises in such traits due to demands to increase numbers or reduce costs, should be carefully considered in light of the desired field performance.

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