piggyBac transformation of the New World screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax, produces multiple distinct mutant strains


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Abstract

Sterile insect technique (SIT) programs are designed to eradicate pest species by releasing mass-reared, sterile insects into an infested area. The first major implementation of SIT was the New World Screwworm Eradication Program, which successfully eliminated the New World screwworm (NWS), Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel) (Diptera: Calliphoridae), from the Continental US, Mexico and much of Central America. Ionizing radiation is currently used for sterilization, but transgenic insect techniques could replace this method, providing a safer, more cost-effective alternative. Genetic transformation methods have been demonstrated in NWS, and verified by Southern blot hybridization, PCR and sequencing of element insertion junctions. A lethal insertional mutation and enhancer detection-like phenotypic expression variations are presented and discussed. In addition to supporting the eradication efforts, transformation methods offer potential means to identify genes and examine gene function in NWS.

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