A synthetic sex distortion system in the human malaria mosquito

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Nikolai Windbichler

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

We have generated a synthetic sex distortion system in the human malaria mosquito. By expressing, during spermatogenesis of Anopheles gambiae, a highly specific endonuclease that recognizes sequences present only on the X chromosome we bias the production of functional sperm towards Y chromosome bearing spermatozoa. As a result transgenic males generate offspring consisting largely of males. As the first system of its kind, it bypasses the sex determination mechanism of the mosquito and functions by biasing the transmission of the sex chromosomes. It has been suggested by W.D. Hamilton and others that inducing extreme sex ratios represents a potential strategy for suppressing natural pest populations and thus our finding has direct implications for malaria vector control.