Ecological and community considerations in engineering arthropods to suppress vector-borne disease

Andrew Spielman, John C. Beier, Anthony E. Kiszewski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


Advances in molecular biology have encouraged major research efforts devoted to improving human health by reducing the ability of natural populations of vector arthropods to transmit certain pathogens. In 1986, a well-attended symposium on this subject was held at the national meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The speakers participating in this earliest of formal discussions on the subject agreed that the risk of vector-borne disease might be reduced if a genetic “construct” could be developed that would block development of certain pathogens in the vector arthropod and if that construct could be linked to a genetic “drive mechanism” that would cause a disproportionate portion of the descendants of the released arthropods to carry the construct. Malaria was the primary disease discussed at the symposium, and the main construct under consideration was a gene or combination of genes that destroyed one of the developmental stages of the malaria pathogen in the vector. At the time, the newly discovered global sweep by the P-element in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster (Spradling and Rubin 1986) inspired the participants to identify transposable elements as the most feasible drive mechanism for the proposed public health intervention against Anopheles gambiae, the main African vector mosquito. The strategy proposed at that early symposium more recently has been extended to the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus (Olson et al. 1996). The enduring spirit of optimism that began in the 1980s now causes a large share of the public health entomology research budget to be invested in the genetics of vector competence, transposable elements, and the structure of vector populations (Spielman 1994).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGenetically Engineered Organisms
Subtitle of host publicationAssessing Environmental and Human Health Effects
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781420042030
ISBN (Print)9780849304392
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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