Improving the Efficacy of Sterile Insect Technique by Enhancing Male Performance with Targeted Overexpression of Antioxidant Defense Systems

Grants and Contracts Details


The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is an area-wide pest management strategy in which mass-reared sterilized insects are released into the environment to suppress pest populations. While SIT is an effective, environmentally-friendly control method, cost remains a significant burden for expanding the scope of SIT. The US spends >$30 million annually on SIT to primarily control two species of fruit flies, and other countries spend considerably more. One of the greatest economic barriers of SIT is the poor performance of sterile males, as rearing and handling practices significantly reduce the fitness and competitiveness of males. In particular, ionizing radiation used for sterilization initiates the formation of free radicals and other reactive molecules that cause considerable oxidative damage to cellular structures. Thus, I propose to use transgenic techniques to overexpress antioxidant enzymes, thereby reducing irradiation-induced oxidative damage and improving the performance of released males. My model system is the Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa, which has a rich history of SIT research and well developed tools for genetic transformation. With the potential to significantly enhance the economy and efficacy of SIT, this project is well aligned with the AFRI Challenge Area of Food Security and the Foundational area of Production of Plant Products. My primary mentor for this postdoctoral research project is Dan Hahn at University of Florida. By providing the opportunity to merge my extensive physiological and genetic training to a topic of agricultural relevance, this project satisfies the NIFA Fellowship’s goal of training the next generation of agricultural research leaders.
Effective start/end date2/15/16 → 2/14/18


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $85,481.00


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