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Nov 7, 2020

Female-to-male sex conversion in Ceratitis capitata

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, genetics, sex

The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is based on the mass release of sterilized male insects to reduce the pest population size via infertile mating. Critical for all SIT programs is a conditional sexing strain to enable the cost-effective production of male-only populations. Compared to current female-elimination strategies based on killing or sex sorting, generating male-only offspring via sex conversion would be economically beneficial by doubling the male output. Temperature-sensitive mutations known from the D. melanogaster transformer-2 gene (tra2ts) induce sex conversion at restrictive temperatures, while regular breeding of mutant strains is possible at permissive temperatures. Since tra2 is a conserved sex determination gene in many Diptera, including the major agricultural pest Ceratitis capitata, it is a promising candidate for the creation of a conditional sex conversion strategy in this Tephritid. Here, CRISPR/Cas9 homology-directed repair was used to induce the D. melanogaster-specific tra2ts SNPs in Cctra2. 100% female to male conversion was successfully achieved in flies homozygous for the tra2ts2 mutation. However, it was not possible, to identify a permissive temperature for the mutation allowing the rearing of a tra2ts2 homozygous line, as lowering the temperature below 18.5 °C interferes with regular breeding of the flies.

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