Dr. R. Guy Reeves



Email:reeves [at] evolbio.mpg.de

SKYPE (work) DrGuyReeves

Address Max-Planck-Institut für Evolutionsbiologie

Abteilung Evolutionsgenetik

August-Thienemannstrasse 2

24306 Plön (Germany)

Phone (office) 

+49 4522 763  297


My current research interests are focused on three interrelated areas:

New:                                     Tuesday, 31 January, 2012

If you are looking for information on my latest publication please click here

Scientific Standards and the Regulation of Genetically Modified Insects.

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 6(1) . Issue 31/1/2012


Independent experimental validation of the properties of published transgenic constructs in insects

To minimise  the probability of  environmental harm  occurring upon release of novel transgenic insects into the environment it may in some circumstances be desirable to independently verify key properties of released insects.  We are currently working on validating  previously described properties and expanding the understanding of understudied aspects of constructs developed by other scientific groups.  

Development of a  proof principle system for underdominant population transformation.

The utilisation of genetic underdominance to control insect pest populations is not a new one and was first successfully applied in the 1940s to eliminate tsetse flies ( which spread sleeping sickness) from a 25Km2 area of Tanzania . 

I am currently developing a transgenic construct which we call {U}, that  also exploits underdominance to push novel genes into experimental populations..  This could one day be useful to push genes into wild populations to stop particular insects species spreading diseases.

The {U} construct has the following novel and desirable properties:

1    Geographically self-limiting; restricting itself to targeted populations of a specific                                                 species.

2    Reversible, population transformation is realistically reversible.

3    Species specific; Horizontal transfer to non-target species is highly unlikely.

This work is still at a very early stage and it will take years of multi-disciplinary work before it will be possible to determine if this approach is effective and safe.

This work is currently being exclusively done in a fruit fly model,

Relevant publications

Reed FA, Reeves RG, Aquadro CF (2005) Evidence of Susceptibility and Resistance to Cryptic X-Linked Meiotic Drive in Natural Populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution 59: 1280–1291.

Heck JA, Argueso JL, Gemici Z, Reeves RG, Bernard A, et al. (2006) Negative epistasis between natural variants of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae MLH1 and PMS1 genes results in a defect in mismatch repair. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 3256-61. doi:10.1073/pnas.0510998103

Altrock PM, Traulsen A, Reeves RG, Reed F a (2010) Using underdominance to bi-stably transform local populations. Journal of theoretical biology 267: 62-75. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2010.08.004


Promoting public engagement in trials of  genetically  modified (GM)  insects.

If GM insect technologies can be shown to be safe and effective they have the potential to make a real contribution to controlling diseases spread by insects which cause enormous human hardship. They also have the potential to control insect damage to crop in species-specific manner without the need for the use of chemicals.

However, these technologies have an obvious potential to cause public unease.

Like many other scientists and NGOs I am actively promoting informed scientific debate about this topic. 

In a recent article we describes the history and context of insect releases into the environment over the last 7 years.  We also argue for transparency--not for transparency’s sake--but for clearly articulated strategic reasons that promote acceptance of the value of this promising technology.

R. Guy Reeves, Jai A. Denton, Fiammetta Santucci, Jarosław Bryk, Floyd A. Reed

Scientific Standards and the Regulation of Genetically Modified Insects.

(2012). PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 6 (1) .


I was also one of the 50 experts consulted in writing draft regulatory guidelines for the EU

Scientific / Technical Report submitted to EFSA. Defining Environmental Risk Assessment Criteria for Genetically Modified Insects to be placed on the EU Market. (2010)



Don’t worry if you cannot follow how underdominant population transformation works, even trained population geneticists can find it difficult to follow at first.

In the next month we will update this section and included an intuitive animation of how it works

See note on the manner of any commercial exploitation resulting from my work