CRISPR-Cas9 Helps Uncover Genetics of Exotic Organisms

The simplicity of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing will soon make studying the genes of any organism, from the simplest slime mold to the octopus, as easy as it now is to study the genes controlling development in standard lab animals such as nematodes, fruit flies, frogs and mice.

“CRISPR-Cas9 has made a huge impact already in model systems, like the fruit fly Drosophila and the nematode C. elegans, where there are already a lot of tools. People were able to incorporate the technology very quickly and change the way they make mutants in those animals,” said senior author Nipam Patel, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of integrative biology. “But there are a lot of other animals we want to work with because we can use them to answer really basic evolutionary questions. CRISPR-Cas9 is a great technology for that.”

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