• Question: "My plan is to modify their genes, making them incapable of producing female offspring. The male offspring will survive and pass on this female killer gene to their offspring. This method will crash the population" do you have a back-up plan in case this goes wrong?

    Asked by 229epdj28 to Beccy on 14 Jun 2017.
    • Photo: Rebecca Corkill

      Rebecca Corkill answered on 14 Jun 2017:

      Do you mean: What if, for some reason, it doesn’t work—and the insects revert back to a wild-type state? As in what if the desired gene mutation doesn’t take, and people end up releasing mass quantities of new insects that end up making the fly problem worse? It is kind of improbable.

      As it is unlikely that this mutant is going to somehow mutate again and give you something undesirable. The insects will go through a lot of rigorous testing before they are ever released. If the modified insects don’t crash the population- then it wouldn’t cause any more harm.

      Of course, I am in very early stages of this work. I am trying to figure out the basic biology that is not known yet. I have other backup plans that I am working on, I will just test these out. In science you do things very small scale- so you know if something will not work because you have tried it on a small contained population. You just try out another plan.