Safely Releasing Genetically Modified Genes into the Wild

August 2, 2017

Super-mendelian genetics increases the likelihood of inheritance of a desired trait to nearly 100 percent, even if that trait confers a selective disadvantage (Image courtesy of Hidenori Tanaka/Harvard)

So, you’ve genetically engineered a malaria-resistant mosquito, now what? How many mosquitos would you need to replace the disease-carrying wild type? What is the most effective distribution pattern? How could you stop a premature release of the engineered mosquitos?

Releasing genetically engineered organisms into an environment without knowing the answers to these questions could cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem. But how do you answer these questions without field experiments?

Applied mathematicians and physicists from Harvard [Prof. David Nelson] and Princeton Universities used mathematical modeling to guide the design and distribution of genetically modified genes that can both effectively replace wild mosquitos and be safely controlled...

Continue reading "Safely releasing genetically modified genes into the wild" by Leah Burrows, August 1, 2017.

Also see the original research article: Hidenori Tanakaa, Howard A. Stonec, and David R. Nelson, "Spatial gene drives and pushed genetic waves," PNAS (2017) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1705868114