CRISPR: How gene editing could provide clean water, cut pesticide use and protect the environment

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CRISPR has been making headlines for its potential to treat or prevent diseases. But medicine isn’t the only science where CRISPR is opening doors.

You’ve probably heard that CRISPR allows scientists to edit genes very specifically…But this fundamental ability makes CRISPR a great tool for all sorts of complex genetic engineering. Using CRISPR, scientists can:

These traits make CRISPR an invaluable tool for tweaking multipart genetic processes or building whole new pathways. In the CRISPR age of genetic engineering, complex environmental challenges will become a lot more feasible.

Related article:  CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing unlikely to cause off-target mutations in plants, study shows

Using CRISPR, plants can be engineered to resist threats such as insects or diseases. For instance, CRISPR has already helped generate virus-resistant cucumbers and fungus-resistant rice. In some cases pesticides are the only other way to keep these threats from destroying our food supply.

Nitrogen runoff is another agriculturally relevant environmental problem…Excess added nitrogen [used on farms] can run off fields and contaminate water sources, leading to aquatic dead zones. Many current projects are underway using CRISPR to engineer plants or bacteria for improved nitrogen fixation.

Read full, original article: 10 ways CRISPR will revolutionize environmental science

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