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Open Access Research article

Dynamics of a combined medea-underdominant population transformation system

Chaitanya S Gokhale12*, Richard Guy Reeves3 and Floyd A Reed4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, August Thienemann Str-2, 24306 Plön, Germany

2 Present Address: New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, Massey University at Albany, Private Bag 102904 North Shore Mail Centre, 0745 Auckland, New Zealand

3 Department of Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, August Thienemann Str-2, 24306 Plön, Germany

4 Department of Biology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, USA

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2014, 14:98  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-98

Published: 7 May 2014



Transgenic constructs intended to be stably established at high frequencies in wild populations have been demonstrated to “drive” from low frequencies in experimental insect populations. Linking such population transformation constructs to genes which render them unable to transmit pathogens could eventually be used to stop the spread of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue.


Generally, population transformation constructs with only a single transgenic drive mechanism have been envisioned. Using a theoretical modelling approach we describe the predicted properties of a construct combining autosomal Medea and underdominant population transformation systems. We show that when combined they can exhibit synergistic properties which in broad circumstances surpass those of the single systems.


With combined systems, intentional population transformation and its reversal can be achieved readily. Combined constructs also enhance the capacity to geographically restrict transgenic constructs to targeted populations. It is anticipated that these properties are likely to be of particular value in attracting regulatory approval and public acceptance of this novel technology.

Dynamical systems; Gene drive; Genetic pest management; Population transformation; Population replacement