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Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Nov;37(11):1168-76. Epub 2007 Jul 19.

Genetic sexing through the use of Y-linked transgenes.

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Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.


Sterile insect technique (SIT)-based pest control programs rely on the mass release of sterile insects to reduce the wild target population. In many cases, it is desirable to release only males. Sterile females may cause damage, e.g., disease transmission by mosquitoes or crop damage via oviposition by the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly). Also, sterile females may decrease the effectiveness of released males by distracting them from seeking out wild females. To eliminate females from the release population, a suitable sexual dimorphism is required. For several pest species, genetic sexing strains have been constructed in which such a dimorphism has been induced by genetics. Classical strains were based on the translocation to the Y chromosome of a selectable marker, which is therefore expressed only in males. Recently, several prototype strains have been constructed using sex-specific expression of markers or conditional lethal genes from autosomal insertions of transgenes. Here, we describe a novel genetic sexing strategy based on the use of Y-linked transgenes expressing fluorescent proteins. We demonstrate the feasibility of this strategy in a major pest species, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), and discuss the advantages and disadvantages relative to other genetic sexing methods and potential applicability to other species.

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