Synthetic gene drive systems possess enormous potential to replace, alter, or suppress wild populations of significant disease vectors and crop pests; however, their utility in diverse populations remains to be demonstrated. Here, we report the creation of a synthetic Medea gene drive system in a major worldwide crop pest, Drosophila suzukii We demonstrate that this drive system, based on an engineered maternal "toxin" coupled with a linked embryonic "antidote," is capable of biasing Mendelian inheritance rates with up to 100% efficiency. However, we find that drive resistance, resulting from naturally occurring genetic variation and associated fitness costs, can be selected for and hinder the spread of such a drive. Despite this, our results suggest that this gene drive could maintain itself at high frequencies in a wild population and spread to fixation if either its fitness costs or toxin resistance were reduced, providing a clear path forward for developing future such systems in this pest.
Keywords: Drosophila suzukii; Medea; gene drive.
Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.