New Coordinated Research Projects

Call for Submission of Research Proposals for a new FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project on Improvement of Colony Management in Insect Mass-rearing for SIT Applications

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) applications against major insect pests and disease vectors rely on the cost-effective production of high quality sterile males. This largely depends on the optimal management of target pest colonies by maximizing the benefits provided by a genetically rich and pathogen-free mother colony, the presence of symbiotic microorganisms, and an efficient domestication and rearing process that mitigates colony deterioration, while at the same time minimizing or even eliminating the outbreak of viral or microbial pathogens (bacteria, fungi, microsporidia), as well as the use of hazardous chemicals.

This proposed CRP aims to develop best practices for sustainable insect colony management for the cost-effective production of high quality sterile males for SIT applications against major insect pests and disease vectors through a multidisciplinary approach involving entomologists, geneticists, ecologists, microbiologists, pathologists, virologists, and mass-rearing experts to
(i) prevent or minimize colony deterioration by maintaining a mother colony under relaxed semi-natural conditions,
(ii) prevent or minimize loss of field performance, and
(iii) identify and conserve potential symbionts that enable the insect to combat pathogens and succeed upon field release.

The CRP will address five major problems encountered during insect colonization and insect mass-rearing:

  • Poor genetic diversity, pathogen presence, and low performance are regularly encountered during insect colonization and adaptation to rearing conditions.
  • Loss of genetic diversity and important symbiotic organisms under continuous mass-rearing often leads to the loss of mating competitiveness, predator avoidance and longevity, and change in circadian rhythm, resulting in colony deterioration.
  • Loss of strain stability or purity of specially designed or selected strains are major concerns during continuous mass-rearing, resulting in colony deterioration.
  • Colonies in insect mass-rearing facilities are frequently threatened by infection or build-up of microbial and viral pathogens, which is exacerbated by the lack of pathogen detection tools.
  • In the case of human disease vectors, potential human health issues related to disease transmission.

The expected duration of the CRP is 5 years (2018-2023) and the first Research Coordination Meeting is planned for 2 - 6 July 2018 in Vienna, Austria.

Scientists and researchers who are interested in collaborating in this new CRP should contact (Adly Abdalla) or (Carlos Caceres). 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 December 2017 to Official.Mail@iaea.org.