Seed World

Gene Drive Technology With Agricultural Application Potential

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Gene drive technology, a genetic phenomenon that occurs in nature, causes a trait to spread in species through sexual reproduction over many generations. The inheritance rate is higher than the Mendelian rate which is 50%. Gene drives have been used for public health and conservation, but can potentially be used in multiple species, like agricultural pests according to a release.

Weeds and pests have a negative impact on crops and their impact has caused interest in potentially using genetic techniques, like gene drive, to help control weeds and pests. Current insect pest control includes the use of pesticides which has helped to decrease food loss and waste. Research around new tools will help continue to protect crops and reduce food waste while also minimizing agriculture’s environmental footprint. These new tools and practices include gene editing techniques.

Now in its early stages, gene-drive-based strategies are being research to help reduce agricultural pests. The gene-drive-based strategies will focus on both controlling pests that cause damage and spreading desired crop or livestock traits faster. A limitation with this strategy is that gene drives cannot work on asexually reproducing organisms. The strategy is also unsuitable for species that have longer generation times. While gene-drive-based strategies may not meet all the needs, but it is a helpful tool to continue to investigate.

More information: Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research.