Sex separation strategies: Past experience and new approaches

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Abstract

The success of the sterile insect technique (SIT) and other genetic strategies designed to eliminate large populations of insects relies on the efficient inundative releases of competitive, sterile males into the natural habitat of the target species. As released sterile females do not contribute to the sterility in the field population, systems for the efficient mass production and separation of males from females are needed. For vector species like mosquitoes, in which only females bite and transmit diseases, the thorough removal of females before release while leaving males competent to mate is a stringent prerequisite. Biological, genetic and transgenic approaches have been developed that permit efficient male-female separation for some species considered for SIT. However, most sex separation methods have drawbacks and many of these methods are not directly transferable to mosquitoes. Unlike genetic and transgenic systems, biological methods that rely on sexually dimorphic characters, such as size or development rate, are subject to natural variation, requiring regular adjustment and re-calibration of the sorting systems used. The yield can be improved with the optimization of rearing, but the scale of mass production places practical limits on what is achievable, resulting in a poor rearing to output ratio. High throughput separation is best achieved with scalable genetic or transgenic approaches.

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Papathanos, P. A., Bossin, H. C., Benedict, M. Q., Catteruccia, F., Malcolm, C. A., Alphey, L., & Crisanti, A. (2009). Sex separation strategies: Past experience and new approaches. Malaria Journal, 8(SUPPL. 2). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-8-S2-S5

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