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Keywords:

  • assortative mating;
  • fitness cost;
  • genetic control;
  • mosquito;
  • release threshold

Abstract

To date, models of gene-drive mechanisms proposed for replacing wild-type mosquitoes with transgenic strains that cannot transmit diseases have assumed no age or mating structure. We developed a more detailed model to analyze the effects of age and mating-related factors on the number of engineered insects that must be introduced into a wild population to achieve successful gene-drive based on the Medea and engineered underdominance mechanisms. We found that models without age-structure and mating details can substantially overestimate or underestimate the numbers of engineered insects that must be introduced. In general, introduction thresholds are lowest when young adults are introduced. When both males and females are introduced, assortative mating by age has little impact on the introduction threshold unless the introduced females have diminished reproductive ability because of their age. However, when only males are introduced, assortative mating by age is generally predicted to increase introduction thresholds. In most cases, introduction thresholds are much higher for male-only introductions than for both-sex introductions, but when mating is nearly random and the introduced insects are adults with Medea constructs, male-only introductions can have somewhat lower thresholds than both-sex introductions. Results from this model suggest specific parameters that should be measured in field experiments.