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Mutation of the seminal protease gene, serine protease 2, results in male sterility in diverse lepidopterans.


Sterile insect technology (SIT) is an environmentally friendly method for pest control. As part of our efforts to develop a strategy that results in engineered male-sterile strains with minimum effects on viability and mating competition, we used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to disrupt Ser2, which encodes a seminal fluid protein, in the model lepidopteran insect, Bombyx mori, and an important agricultural pest, Plutella xylostella. Disruption of Ser2 resulted in dominant heritable male sterility. Wild-type females mated with Ser2-deficient males laid eggs normally, but the eggs did not hatch. We detected no differences in other reproductive behaviors in the mutant males. These results support the conclusion that Ser2 gene is necessary for male reproductive success in diverse lepidopterans. Targeting Ser2 gene has the potential to form the basis for a new strategy for pest control.

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