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Wednesday, January 31 • 11:20am - 11:40am
FISH HABITAT & GENETICS: Biological Assessment of Lionfish (Pterois volitans) Control via CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Drive Technology

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AUTHORS. Kirsten Vacura, Ball State University; Michael Smanski, Kyle Cheeseman, Camden Droppo, Lucas Lagoon - University of Minnesota- Twin Cities; Paul Venturelli, Ball State University

ABSTRACT. The red lionfish (Pterois volitans) is an invasive species in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic that negatively impacts reef communities. Lionfish are difficult to control because they grow quickly, mature early, and have high fecundity. In this study, we modified an existing matrix model to determine whether genetic control via Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR/Cas9) gene drive technology is an effective management solution. We simulated the addition of between 100 and 10,000 lionfish with the Cas9 gene drive to a closed reef both on a one time basis and on a monthly basis for one year. We included scenarios with homing efficiencies of the gene drive ranging from 94% to 100%. All trials led to a significant decline of the species within 30 years, with eradication occurring as early as 40 years. Our results suggest that gene drive technology is effective for controlling invasive lionfish populations. Additional research should evaluate economic feasibility and risk, and model control in an open population (e.g., throughout the Caribbean or along the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts).

Wednesday January 31, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am CST