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Title: Genetic control of the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella L.)
Author: Harvey-Samuel, Timothy
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 9956
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Insect pests represent major threats to food production, biodiversity conservation, and human and animal health. Currently, the most widespread strategy to control their populations is through the spraying of synthetic chemical insecticides. However, the overuse of these compounds has had significant negative environmental consequences. Additionally, our reliance on insecticides has resulted in major reductions in their efficacy through pest-evolved resistance. To successfully manage insect pests, while avoiding environmental degradation, thus requires the development of novel, more sustainable, pest management strategies. Recent advances in our understanding of recombinant DNA methods and molecular biology have allowed the application of transgenic tools to pest management. Here, synthetic genes can be engineered, transformed into the genomes of pest species, and transported into wild target populations through the natural mating behaviour of the insect. A strategy in which these transgenes are lethal to those insects inheriting them in the field is known as RIDL – Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal. A variant of RIDL limits this lethality to females – female specific RIDL (fsRIDL) – which explicitly targets the reproductive capacity of a target population. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the application of such an fsRIDL strategy to the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella L.). This economically important pest of brassica crops is highly adept at developing resistance to insecticides and is considered extremely difficult to manage effectively. I present findings which demonstrate the power of diamondback moth lines transformed with fsRIDL transgenes to eliminate target pest populations, and combine synergistically with other transgenic control strategies such as Bt crops in counteracting the evolution of pesticide resistance. Additionally, an exploration into an alternative gene expression system to that used in current RIDL strategies – the Q system – suggests that not all expression systems will be suitable for transgene control within this highly specific framework. It is hoped that this work will contribute towards the effective control of the diamondback moth, and form a model for the sustainable control of other lepidopteran species through genetic pest management.
Supervisor: Alphey, Luke ; Shimeld, Sebastian Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Entomology ; Zoology ; Applied Ecology ; Molecular Biology ; genetic modification ; invasive species ; RIDL ; integrated pest management ; diamondback moth