Pest management Australia-wide could be transformed with breakthrough genetic biocontrol research under the NSW Nationals in the state government’s $50 million mouse control package.
Nationals Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the NSW government would provide $1.8 million towards the project to fast-track the delivery of next generation ‘gene drive’ technology to control the plagues of the future.
“I know the impact the mouse plague is having on communities right across regional and rural NSW, I’ve seen it first-hand and I’ve sat down to speak with the families affected,” Mr Marshall said.
“That’s why the Government has invested $50 million in a range of support measures, not only to mitigate the impacts of the mice currently crawling across so much of NSW, but also to create options to ensure we reduce the impact of future population spikes.
“We are not only giving farmers more baiting options and providing rebates for people to control mice in and around their homes, but we are fast-tracking critical research to bring mouse control into the 21st Century,” he said.
The three-year program of genetic biocontrol research will identify fast acting gene drives which are designed to spread an inherited characteristic through a population at higher-than-normal rates.
The research will test two strategies for population control – the ‘X-shredder’ approach which eliminates sperm carrying the X chromosome, producing more male than female offspring; and the ‘female infertility’ approach which initially spreads through the population. Once the population is saturated with the genetic modification, all the females that are generated will be infertile.
Mr Marshall said advanced computer modelling would also investigate the use of the technology on other pest species such as black rats, rabbits, and feral cats.
For more information, visit www.nsw.gov.au/mice.