We have initiated efforts to determine the molecular basis for the MD meiotic drive system in the mosquito, Aedes aegypti. The effect of the MD gene is a highly male-biased sex ratio, but varies depending on the frequency and sensitivity of a susceptible responder ms allele. The MD system has potential as a mechanism for driving trangenes for pathogen resistance into natural Ae. aegypti populations. Because all previously existing laboratory strains carrying the MD gene have been lost, we have selected for a new strain, T37, that carries a strong driver. Matings between T37 males and drive-susceptible ms females result in progeny with highly biased sex ratios, wherein only ≈14.7% females are produced. We discuss the potential for identifying MD candidate genes based on comparisons with the well-described Drosophila melanogaster segregation distorter (SD) meiotic drive system and considerations for release of transgenic Ae. aegypti into natural populations where MD and insensitive mi alleles are likely segregating.
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Vol. 41 • No. 6