These authors contributed equally to this work.
Release of genetically engineered insects: a framework to identify potential ecological effects
Article first published online: 12 SEP 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 11, pages 4000–4015, October 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(11): 4000–4015
- Issue published online: 9 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 12 SEP 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 15 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 14 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Received: 9 APR 2013
- University of Minnesota. Grant Number: DGE-0653827
- Anopheles gambiae ;
- genetically modified organisms;
- homing endonuclease genes;
- population dynamics;
- problem formulation;
- risk assessment
Genetically engineered (GE) insects have the potential to radically change pest management worldwide. With recent approvals of GE insect releases, there is a need for a synthesized framework to evaluate their potential ecological and evolutionary effects. The effects may occur in two phases: a transitory phase when the focal population changes in density, and a steady state phase when it reaches a new, constant density. We review potential effects of a rapid change in insect density related to population outbreaks, biological control, invasive species, and other GE organisms to identify a comprehensive list of potential ecological and evolutionary effects of GE insect releases. We apply this framework to the Anopheles gambiae mosquito – a malaria vector being engineered to suppress the wild mosquito population – to identify effects that may occur during the transitory and steady state phases after release. Our methodology reveals many potential effects in each phase, perhaps most notably those dealing with immunity in the transitory phase, and with pathogen and vector evolution in the steady state phase. Importantly, this framework identifies knowledge gaps in mosquito ecology. Identifying effects in the transitory and steady state phases allows more rigorous identification of the potential ecological effects of GE insect release.