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Important discovery

Important discovery with the contribution of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Genomics of the DBB

Isolation of the maleness factor in fruit fly pests

An important discovery that could give new directions in insect control is published today in the prominent journal Science, with the contribution of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Genomics of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the University of Thessaly: https://science.sciencemag.org/…/early/2019/08/28/science.a….

After more that forty years of research, the maleness factor of fruit fly pests was finally isolated, a small gene (Maleness-on-the-Y, MoY) that resides on the Y chromosome of the Tephritid family of flies. MoY controls the sex determination pathway and it is conserved in several insects of this family, including the Mediterranean fruit fly and the olive fly. The Medfly is one of the most destructive insect pests in the world. Female flies leave their eggs in more than 250 different fruits and vegetables and the larvae that hatch destroy them. Similarly, the olive fruit fly leaves its eggs exclusively in olives, thus causing extensive damages in olive production. Silencing or disrupting the MoY function in male XY embryos led to the development of fertile females, whilst overexpression of the gene produced fertile males from female XX embryos.

The discovery of MoY is an important step towards developing environmentally friendly strategies to control the destructive members of this particular fly family, without the need to use chemical insecticides, says the Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Genomics of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the University of Thessaly, Professor Kostas Mathiopoulos. Now, our efforts is to render MoY a useful switch, so that we could conditionally convert insects into males. In this way, large insect rearing factories can produce millions of male insects that, after sterilizing them, will be released into the environment. When these released flies will mate with wild females they will produce sterile eggs, thus reducing natural populations

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  • Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλίας
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