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Malar J. 2009 Nov 16;8 Suppl 2:S6. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-S2-S6.

Radiation biology of mosquitoes.

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  • 1Entomology Unit, FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory, Joint FAO/IAEA Programme, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria. meh258@cornell.edu

Abstract

There is currently renewed interest in assessing the feasibility of the sterile insect technique (SIT) to control African malaria vectors in designated areas. The SIT relies on the sterilization of males before mass release, with sterilization currently being achieved through the use of ionizing radiation. This paper reviews previous work on radiation sterilization of Anopheles mosquitoes. In general, the pupal stage was irradiated due to ease of handling compared to the adult stage. The dose-response curve between the induced sterility and log (dose) was shown to be sigmoid, and there was a marked species difference in radiation sensitivity. Mating competitiveness studies have generally been performed under laboratory conditions. The competitiveness of males irradiated at high doses was relatively poor, but with increasing ratios of sterile males, egg hatch could be lowered effectively. Males irradiated as pupae had a lower competitiveness compared to males irradiated as adults, but the use of partially-sterilizing doses has not been studied extensively. Methods to reduce somatic damage during the irradiation process as well as the use of other agents or techniques to induce sterility are discussed. It is concluded that the optimal radiation dose chosen for insects that are to be released during an SIT programme should ensure a balance between induced sterility of males and their field competitiveness, with competitiveness being determined under (semi-) field conditions. Self-contained 60Co research irradiators remain the most practical irradiators but these are likely to be replaced in the future by a new generation of high output X ray irradiators.

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