1. Genetics and Genomics
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Introduction of a male-harming mitochondrial haplotype via 'Trojan Females' achieves population suppression in fruit flies

  1. Jonci Nikolai Wolff  Is a corresponding author
  2. Neil J Gemmell
  3. Daniel M Tompkins
  4. Damian K Dowling
  1. Monash University, Australia
  2. University of Otago, New Zealand
  3. Landcare Research, New Zealand
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e23551 doi: 10.7554/eLife.23551


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.

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Author details

  1. Jonci Nikolai Wolff

    School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8809-5010
  2. Neil J Gemmell

    Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0671-3637
  3. Daniel M Tompkins

    Landcare Research, Dunedin, New Zealand
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Damian K Dowling

    School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Smart Ideas Grant)

  • Neil J Gemmell
  • Daniel M Tompkins
  • Damian K Dowling

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Marcel Dicke, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Publication history

  1. Received: November 22, 2016
  2. Accepted: April 27, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: May 3, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: May 23, 2017 (version 2)


© 2017, Wolff et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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