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Breech Flystrike Prevention Tools
The development of new flystrike controls is a focus for AWI. We invest in the research and development of fly genome sequencing, nanotechnology and vaccine technologies to provide the Australian wool industry with new and innovative options to combat flystrike.
Projects in Development
Nanotechnology works to extending the protection period of chemical treatments against flies and lice with minimal residues. By encapsulating actives into nanocapsules, treatments will be released at steady, active levels over a prolonged period.
Alternatively they may be designed to release at times when or sites where they are needed. An example would be after a rain event, where the risk of flystrike is highest.
This technology also provides a dual benefit by reducing the development of chemical resistance risk.
This research has provided researchers with unique insights into the fly’s molecular biology, interactions with the host animal, and insecticide resistance.
Project leads, Dr Robin Gasser, Dr Philip Batterham and Dr Claire Anstead from the University of Melbourne found 14,554 genes, 2062 of these being unique to the sheep blowfly Lucilia cuprina. The Baylor team created the 458 million piece jigsaw and the Melbourne team painstakingly put it together.
A follow on project with the University of Melbourne has developed the new “CRISPR” technology for use in blowflies. This technology is able to remove the expression of particular genes. The project knocked out the eye colour gene and produced a fly with white eyes, an easily observed marker to show that the technique is working.
The gene that controls olfaction is next to be knocked out so that the blowflies produced will have no sense of smell.
These insights will have broad implications for designing new methods for the prevention and control of flystrike.
Having known and unique gene targets will make formulation and registration of new chemicals easier.
It will also help determine exactly how existing chemicals are impacting on the fly and provide information about which chemicals are more likely to lose efficacy early in their life.
The investigation includes a detailed blowfly population study, led by the University of Melbourne, during the next three flystrike seasons across all Australian states. This research will identify any differences in the genetics of blowflies from different regions of Australia.
The population sampling data will contribute to the identification of potential candidate antigens, the development of chemical treatment protocols and monitoring of insecticide resistance.
“The second component of the University of Melbourne project is to detect the proteins and molecules released by both the blowfly larvae and the affected sheep during flystrike, which will determine the type, timing and magnitude of the sheep immune response during a strike,” Dr Perry explained.
CSIRO Senior Experimental Scientist and Flystrike Vaccine research lead Tony Vuocolo highlighted the CSIRO has identified a group of candidates that are involved in blowfly larval establishment and growth on sheep. “We believe that targeting these proteins through a vaccine has the potential to inhibit larval growth and ultimately kill the blowfly larvae,” Dr Vuocolo said.
“The candidate antigens identified as inducing a strong immune response in sheep and that severely impact early fly larval development will be developed further with the aim to develop a commercial vaccine with a VetPharma partner. If successful, this project will culminate in a flystrike vaccine that will protect sheep right across Australia.”