CRISPR- the gene-editing technology finds a variety of use for agricultural and public health. The use ranges from cultivating disease resistant crops, to a recent one, for diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a study involving fish that looks identical to the endangered Delta smelt reveals CRISPR can find use as a conservation and resource management tool. Therefore, the ability of the technology to rapidly detect and differentiate among species could revolutionize the entire scope of environmental monitoring, opine researchers.
The findings of the study are published in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources.
Technology features to distinguish Similar-looking Species
During the study, the team of researchers observed CRISPR- based detection platform Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter Unlocking (SHERLOCK) displayed capability to genetically distinguish endangered fish species from similar-looking nonnative species in almost real time, without the need of extracting DNA.
“CRISPR can do much more than edit genomes,” said the co-author of the study. CRISPR can find use for some cool ecological applications, and the quest to explore this continues.
The focus of scientists involved in the study was three fish species that is a concern of management in the San Francisco Estuary. The fish species are California endangered and the U.S. threatened Delta smelt, the nonnative wakasagi, and the California threatened longfin smelt.
Earlier, in the Sacramento- San Joaquin Delta, hundreds of thousands of Delta smelt lived before their population crashed in the 1980s. As per estimations, currently, only a few thousand rmain in the wild.
“Meanwhile, in an effort to identify endangered species, getting it wrong is a big deal,” stated the lead author of the study, who was a project scientist at University of California, Davis at the time the study was conceived. The lead author is currently an environmental program manager with California Department of Water Resources.