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It has been theorized that inducing extreme reproductive sex ratios could be a method to suppress or eliminate pest populations. Limited knowledge about the genetic makeup and mode of action of naturally occurring sex distorters and the prevalence of co-evolving suppressors has hampered their use for control. Here we generate a synthetic sex distortion system by exploiting the specificity of the homing endonuclease I-PpoI, which is able to selectively cleave ribosomal gene sequences of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae that are located exclusively on the mosquito’s X chromosome. We combine structure-based protein engineering and molecular genetics to restrict the activity of the potentially toxic endonuclease to spermatogenesis. Shredding of the paternal X chromosome prevents it from being transmitted to the next generation, resulting in fully fertile mosquito strains that produce >95% male offspring. We demonstrate that distorter male mosquitoes can efficiently suppress caged wild-type mosquito populations, providing the foundation for a new class of genetic vector control strategies.
A central tenet of ecology and biogeography is that the broad outlines of species ranges are determined by climate, whereas the effects of biotic interactions are manifested at local scales. While the first proposition is supported by ample evidence, the second is still a matter of controversy. To address this question, we develop a mathematical model that predicts the spatial overlap, i.e. co-occurrence, between pairs of species subject to all possible types of interactions. We then identify the scale of resolution in which predicted range overlaps are lost. We found that co-occurrence arising from positive interactions, such as mutualism (+/+) and commensalism (+/0), are manifested across scales. Negative interactions, such as competition (-/-) and amensalism (-/0), generate checkerboard patterns of co-occurrence that are discernible at finer resolutions but that are lost and increasing scales of resolution. Scale dependence in consumer-resource interactions (+/-) depends on the strength of positive dependencies between species. If the net positive effect is greater than the net negative effect, then interactions scale up similarly to positive interactions. Our results challenge the widely held view that climate alone is sufficient to characterize species distributions at broad scales, but also demonstrate that the spatial signature of competition is unlikely to be discernible beyond local and regional scales. © 2013 The Authors.
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