Aris Economopoulos

University of Crete, Retimo, Crete, Greece

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Publications (4)16.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly, Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann) is a pest of over 300 fruits, vegetables and nuts. The sterile insect technique (SIT) is a control measure used to reduce the reproductive potential of populations through the mass release of sterilized male insects that mate with wild females. However, SIT flies can display poor field performance, due to the effects of mass-rearing and of the irradiation process used for sterilization. The development of female-lethal RIDL (release of insects carrying a dominant lethal) strains for medfly can overcome many of the problems of SIT associated with irradiation. Here, we present life-history characterizations for two medfly RIDL strains, OX3864A and OX3647Q. Our results show (i) full functionality of RIDL, (ii) equivalency of RIDL and wild-type strains for life-history characteristics, and (iii) a high level of sexual competitiveness against both wild-type and wild-derived males. We also present the first proof-of-principle experiment on the use of RIDL to eliminate medfly populations. Weekly releases of OX3864A males into stable populations of wild-type medfly caused a successive decline in numbers, leading to eradication. The results show that genetic control can provide an effective alternative to SIT for the control of pest insects.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 10/2014; 281(1792). · 5.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae, is the major arthropod pest of commercial olive production, causing extensive damage to olive crops worldwide. Current control techniques rely on spraying of chemical insecticides. The sterile insect technique (SIT) presents an alternative, environmentally friendly and species-specific method of population control. Although SIT has been very successful against other tephritid pests, previous SIT trials on olive fly have produced disappointing results. Key problems included altered diurnal mating rhythms of the laboratory-reared insects, resulting in asynchronous mating activity between the wild and released sterile populations, and low competitiveness of the radiation-sterilised mass-reared flies. Consequently, the production of competitive, male-only release cohorts is considered an essential prerequisite for successful olive fly SIT. We developed a set of conditional female-lethal strains of olive fly (named Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal; RIDL®), providing highly penetrant female-specific lethality, dominant fluorescent marking, and genetic sterility. We found that males of the lead strain, OX3097D-Bol, 1) are strongly sexually competitive with wild olive flies, 2) display synchronous mating activity with wild females, and 3) induce appropriate refractoriness to wild female re-mating. Furthermore, we showed, through a large proof-of-principle experiment, that weekly releases of OX3097D-Bol males into stable populations of caged wild-type olive fly could cause rapid population collapse and eventual eradication. The observed mating characteristics strongly suggest that an approach based on the release of OX3097D-Bol males will overcome the key difficulties encountered in previous olive fly SIT attempts. Although field confirmation is required, the proof-of-principle suppression and elimination of caged wild-type olive fly populations through OX3097D-Bol male releases provides evidence for the female-specific RIDL approach as a viable method of olive fly control. We conclude that the promising characteristics of OX3097D-Bol may finally enable effective SIT-based control of the olive fly.
    BMC Biology 06/2012; 10:51. · 7.43 Impact Factor
  • TEAM Newsletter. 06/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The olive fruit fly (olive fly) Bactrocera oleae (Dacus), recently introduced in North America, is the most destructive pest of olives worldwide. The lack of an efficient gene transfer technology for olive fly has hampered molecular analysis, as well as development of genetic techniques for its control. We have developed a Minos-based transposon vector carrying a self-activating cassette which overexpresses the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). Efficient transposase-mediated integration of one to multiple copies of this vector was achieved in the germ line of B. oleae by coinjecting the vector along with in vitro synthesized Minos transposase mRNA into preblastoderm embryos. The self-activating gene construct combined with transposase mRNA present a system with potential for transgenesis of very diverse species.
    Insect Molecular Biology 03/2006; 15(1):95-103. · 3.04 Impact Factor