New Coordinated Research Projects

Call for Submission of Research Proposals for a new FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on Generic approach for the development of genetic sexing strains for SIT applications

Background:

Where important advances need to be made to increase the cost-effectiveness of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), or where it is a prerequisite before any SIT application is conceivable, concerns the development of genetic sexing strains (GSS). In SIT programmes against agriculture pests, the release of both sexes is primarily of economic concern; however, in SIT programmes against some insect disease vectors (e.g. mosquitoes), it is an essential prerequisite to release only males as females are blood feeders and may potentially transmit the diseases even if sterile. One example of how a GSS can significantly enhance SIT applicability and efficiency has been their use in the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata AW-IPM programmes, a technology developed at the FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratories in Seibersdorf in conjunction with the Agency’s CRP programme. Using irradiation and classical genetic approaches, a series of genetic sexing strains were developed for the Mediterranean fruit fly. These are currently being used in all mass-rearing facilities producing this pest for large-scale SIT programmes, including the VIENNA 7 and VIENNA 8 strains. These GSS consist of at least two principal components: (a) a Y-autosome translocation, T(Y;A), which is required to link the inheritance of this marker to the sex and (b) a selectable marker which is necessary for sex separation or female killing. The latter include a temperature-sensitive lethal (tsl) gene.

Objectives:

The main objective of this CRP is the development and evaluation of generic approaches for the construction of genetic sexing strains (GSS) to be used for SIT applications, as part of AW-IPM programs, to control populations of agricultural pests and disease vectors. In particular: (a) to develop generic strategies for the construction of GSS for SIT applications; (b) to assess the efficiency, applicability and the range of the species transferability of the generic approaches and (c) to evaluate, at small scale, GSS developed through the generic approaches.

  • To identify at least two markers which could be used for generic strategies for the development of GSS for SIT applications against targeted agricultural pests and disease vectors identified
  • To establish and evaluate at least two strains carrying these selectable markers to be used for the development of genetic sexing strains for SIT applications against targeted agricultural pests and disease vectors
  • To develop at least two GSS based on generic approaches for SIT applications against targeted agricultural pests and disease vectors developed
  • To evaluate these GSS under small scale rearing conditions.

Duration:

The expected duration of the CRP is 6 years (2019–2024) and the first Research Coordination Meeting is planned for 7–11 October 2019 in Vienna, Austria.

Applications: Scientists and researchers who are interested in collaborating in this new CRP should contact Kostas Bourtzis or Rui Cardoso Pereira . Information on the IAEA Coordinated Research Programme and how to apply for research contracts and research agreements can be found at http://cra.iaea.org/. Applications should be submitted by 28 February 2019 to research.contracts@iaea.org.

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Call for Submission of Research Proposals for a new FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on Assessment of Simultaneous Application of SIT and MAT to Enhance Bactrocera Fruit Fly Management

Background:

The SIT, which is an environment-friendly technique, involves the mass-rearing of male insects, sterilizing them by ionizing radiation and releasing them in the target area in numbers large enough to outcompete their wild counterparts. Sterile male matings with wild females result in no off-spring and the release of sterile males in adequate sterile to wild male over-flooding ratios suppresses the wild population in the targeted area. In certain cases, this population suppression can lead to eventual eradication of the target population. Furthermore, as the SIT acts in an inverse density dependent manner, it becomes more effective when the wild population is reduced.

The male annihilation technique (MAT) has been used to suppress Bactrocera pest species as part of an integrated pest management approach, and even successfully applied to eradicate populations in some isolated situations such as islands or after recent outbreaks. Integration of the MAT with the SIT has so far been sequential, rather than simultaneous, with the SIT applied after a significant reduction of the wild population with the MAT; the reason being to avoid the mass-trapping of the released sterile males in the lured traps with the semiochemical methyl eugenol, which would significantly reduce the efficacy of the SIT.

Objectives:

The objective of the new CRP is to explore the potentially synergistic relationship between MAT and SIT when applied simultaneously to dramatically improve the efficacy of Bactrocera fruit fly management. The assessment of semiochemicals to enhance Bactrocera spp. SIT application against these pest fruit flies will include:

  • The development of cost-effective semiochemical treatments and delivering systems that improve sterile male sexual performance and reduce their response to MAT formulations so that MAT and SIT can be integrated simultaneously.
  • Assessment of the effect of exposure of selected Bactrocera pest species to semiochemicals on earlier sexual maturation and improved male sexual performance, as well as reduced response of exposed sterile males to MAT traps.
  • Evaluation of key parameters in large field cages such as degree of lure response of sterile flies, sterile to wild over-flooding ratio, wild fly sex ratio and bisexual release to determine their influence on the effectiveness of simultaneous MAT and SIT application.
  • Field evaluation of simultaneous MAT and SIT within a pilot or operational setting that includes compatible management practices.

Duration:

The expected duration of the CRP is 5 years (2019–2023) and the first Research Coordination Meeting is planned for 15–19 July 2019 in Vienna, Austria.

Applications: Scientist and researchers who are interested in collaborating in this new CRP should contact Carlos Cáceres or Rui Cardoso Pereira . Information on the IAEA Coordinated Research Programme and how to apply for research contracts and research agreements can be found at http://cra.iaea.org/. Applications should be submitted by 31 October 2018 to research.contracts@iaea.org.