Balancing gene drive spread and fitness cost

Gene drives are any natural or artificial mechanism of spreading a genetic ‘cargo’ into a target population. Gene drives are introduced by the release of genetically modified (transgenic) organisms carrying the cargo gene. These genes almost always inflict a fitness cost on transgenic organisms, underlying a balance between the spread of the gene drive and the cost it imposes.

Gene drives propagate via mating between transgenic and wild-type (i.e., lacking the genetic cargo) organisms. If the genetic cargo is too deleterious, however, spread can be inefficient or even fail. I am studying the relationship between the fitness cost of a gene drive and its ability to spread in space, and how these features combine to determine gene drive success.