Sex-specific effects of candidate Trojan Female Technique haplotype on fertility in pest species Acanthoscelides obtectus
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Pest species pose one of the biggest threats to global agriculture, economy and human health. Thus, there is ongoing effort to implement pest control techniques that are often costly and detrimental for environment and non-target species. The Trojan Female Technique (TFT) is a novel approach to pest management via control of reproductive output. The goal of the TFT is to use naturally occurring mtDNA mutations which impair male fertility, but have no effects on females, to achieve sustained pest population suppression. Although described in fruit flies, the candidate TFT mutations have not yet been documented in pest species. In order to identify and test possible TFT candidates for biological control of seed beetle Acanthoscelides obtectus, a common pest in legume storages, we expressed four mtDNA haplotypes found in laboratory lines selected for late reproduction/long life alongside nuclear background of wild populations. Analysis of the effect of specific mitotypes on female and male reproductive potential showed significant male-only reduction in fertility in just one mito-nuclear combination. More specifically, the fertility of males carrying MG3a haplotype was reduced for more than 40% relative to MG3a females. This result indicates MG3a as a promising candidate for further development of the TFT in seed beetles.