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Historical applications of induced sterilisation in field populations of mosquitoes

Author(s): Dame David | Curtis Christopher | Benedict Mark | Robinson Alan | Knols Bart

Journal: Malaria Journal
ISSN 1475-2875

Volume: 8;
Issue: Suppl 2;
Start page: S2;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Abstract Research on sterile mosquito technology from 1955 to the 1980s provided a substantial body of knowledge on propagation and release of sterile mosquitoes. Radiation sterilisation and chemosterilisation have been used effectively to induce dominant lethality and thereby sterilise important mosquito vectors in the laboratory. Experimental releases of chemosterilised males provided complete control of Anopheles albimanus in a small breeding population (14-15 sq km) in El Salvador. Releases of radiation sterilised males failed to control either Aedes aegypti or Anopheles quadrimaculatus in the USA. Releases of radiation-sterilised and chemosterilised male Culex quinquefasciatus in the USA and India were successful in some instances. Development of genetic sexing systems for Anopheles and improved physical separation methods for Culex have made it possible to rear and release males almost exclusively (> 99%) minimizing the release of potential vectors, the females. Factors that affected efficacy in some field programmes included reduction of competitiveness by radiation, immigration of fertilized females from outside the release zones, and inability of laboratory-bred males to perform in the wild. Despite significant progress, institutional commitments to carry the process further were generally lacking in the late 1970s and until recently. Now, with renewed interest and support for further assessment of this technology, this paper summarizes the current knowledge base, prioritizes some areas of investigation, and challenges scientists and administrators to maintain an awareness of progress, remain realistic about the interpretation of new findings, and make decisions about the sterile insect technique on the basis of informed scientific documentation. Areas recommended for priority research status include the establishment of genetic sexing mechanisms that can be transferred to other mosquito species, re-examination of radiation sterilisation, aerial release technology and mass rearing.
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