Synthetically engineered Medea gene drive system in the worldwide crop pest Drosophila suzukii

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 May 1;115(18):4725-4730. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1713139115. Epub 2018 Apr 17.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics*
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Pest Control, Biological*
  • Smad4 Protein / genetics*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Med protein, Drosophila
  • Smad4 Protein