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© Thibault Andrieux

The objective of the SUZUKILL project is to develop alternative and innovative approaches to biologically control this pest in greenhouse, through the mass-release of sterile insects. Sterile insects will be generated by irradiation (Sterile Insect Technique, SIT) and by Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility (Incompatible Insect Technique, IIT). The first main challenges will be 1) to establish an optimal irradiation protocol for SIT and 2) to develop Wolbachia-infected strains suitable for IIT. Both SIT and IIT rely on the release of thousands of sterile insects to reduce reproductive potential of the specific target wild pest. Development and optimization of mass-rearing at industrial scale, including the production of high number of insects of good quality will be critical for a successful application of SIT and IIT. A crucial step in the scaling-up process will be to ensure that sterile insects preserve the desirable biological attributes and quality after industrial rearing. During the mass-rearing and release protocols, insects are exposed to stressful low temperature at several critical steps (storage, handling, and shipping). In consequence, the ability to expose insects to low temperature without loss of performance is essential for the success of SIT and ITT. Cold treatments often cause direct mortality and/or loss of quality, which may seriously compromise the success of biocontrol. Therefore, fundamental and applied knowledge on the cold tolerance of this species is required to facilitate implementation of both SIT and IIT. Finally, intense mass-rearing may also produce individuals adapted to the laboratory environment different to their wild counterparts. This laboratory adaptation is often associated with loss of genetic diversity in captive populations, a genetic issue that may also compromise the competitiveness of insects, and hence, the success SIT/IIT programs. Another challenge will be to monitor and predict these genetic changes, and to find practical solution to maintain genetic diversity during the domestication process.

© ECOBIO            Last modification on 30 August 2021