January 12, 2017 10:30am
Many amazing discoveries have been made thanks to genetic research ranging from basic understanding of how many biological processes work to highly specialized treatments for complex diseases like cancer. Natural resources scientists have also been able to capitalize on these discoveries by applying that knowledge and sophisticated techniques to the study and conservation of our natural world. Much has been learned by looking at the genetics of game fish and other species of interest, and conservation continues to change as the application of environmental DNA expands and evolves. A next step in using genetics for conservation could be to genetically control invasive species. CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology is being used to explore the possibility and develop methods to control disease carrying mosquito species to eliminate malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. Implementation of this type of control requires public engagement to understand the implications and impacts and discuss the ethics of whether these methods should be used. An overview of how three genetic control methods (trojan Y-Y male release, RNA interference, and CRISPR gene drives) could be used to control invasive species and some of the ethical considerations for public deliberation will be presented.