Introduction of a male-harming mitochondrial haplotype via ‘trojan females’ achieves population suppression in fruit flies

Jonci Nikolai Wolff, Neil J Gemmell, Daniel M Tompkins, Damian K. Dowling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Pests are a global threat to biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human health. Pest control approaches are thus numerous, but their implementation costly, damaging to non-target species, and ineffective at low population densities. The Trojan Female Technique (TFT) is a prospective self-perpetuating control technique that is species-specific and predicted to be effective at low densities. The goal of the TFT is to harness naturally occurring mutations in the mitochondrial genome that impair male fertility while having no effect on females. Here, we provide proof-of-concept for the TFT, by showing that introduction of a male fertility-impairing mtDNA haplotype into replicated populations of Drosophila melanogaster causes numerical population suppression, with the magnitude of effect positively correlated with its frequency at trial inception. Further development of the TFT could lead to establishing a control strategy that overcomes limitations of conventional approaches, with broad applicability to invertebrate and vertebrate species, to control environmental and economic pests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23551
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2017

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