Mating competitiveness of sterile genetic sexing strain males (GAMA) under laboratory and semi-field conditions: Steps towards the use of the Sterile

in Research Mar 2, 2024 From Parasites & Vectors



Anopheles arabiensis Patton is primarily responsible for malaria transmission in South Africa after successful suppression of other major vector species using indoor spraying of residual insecticides. Control of An. arabiensis using current insecticide based approaches is proving difficult owing to the development of insecticide resistance, and variable feeding and resting behaviours. The use of the sterile insect technique as an area-wide integrated pest management system to supplement the control of An. arabiensis was proposed for South Africa and is currently under investigation. The success of this technique is dependent on the ability of laboratory-reared sterile males to compete with wild males for mates. As part of the research and development of the SIT technique for use against An. arabiensis in South Africa, radio-sensitivity and mating competitiveness of a local An. arabiensis sexing strain were assessed.


The optimal irradiation dose inducing male sterility without compromising mating vigour was tested using Cobalt 60 irradiation doses ranging from 70-100 Gy. Relative mating competitiveness of sterile laboratory-reared males (GAMA strain) compared to fertile wild-type males (AMAL strain) for virgin wild-type females (AMAL) was investigated under laboratory and semi-field conditions using large outdoor cages. Three different sterile male to fertile male to wild-type female ratios were evaluated [1:1:1, 5:1:1 and 10:1:1 (sterile males: fertile, wild-type males: fertile, wild-type females)].


Irradiation at the doses tested did not affect adult emergence but had a moderate effect on adult survivorship and mating vigour. A dose of 75 Gy was selected for the competitiveness assays. Mating competitiveness experiments showed that irradiated GAMA male mosquitoes are a third as competitive as their fertile AMAL counterparts under semi-field conditions. However, they were not as competitive under laboratory conditions. An inundative ratio of 10:1 induced the highest sterility in the representative wild-type population, with potential to effectively suppress reproduction.


Laboratory-reared and sterilised GAMA male An. arabiensis at a release ratio of 3:1 (3 sterile males to 1 wild, fertile male) can successfully compete for insemination of wild-type females. These results will be used to inform subsequent small-scale pilot field releases in South Africa.


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