World's First 'Spotty Dog' and Cow-Like Sheep Created Using Gene Editing
Researchers at the state-run Xinjiang Academy of Zootechnical Science in China have bred five sheep with different coat colors using the new gene-editing tool known as CRISPR-Cas9.
Researchers in #Xinjiang change #sheep colors by gene editing, known as CRISPR-Cas9 https://t.co/2iz5Uhzrqr— China Xinhua News (@China Xinhua News)1465346965.0
According to Xinhua, two of the sheep have black and white fur "like cows," another two have black with white spots like "spotty dogs" and the fifth sheep has brown and white like "unstirred cappuccino."
This is the first time that scientists have altered the coat colors of large animals using the controversial technique, the Chinese publication noted. Color alteration has been previously achieved on mice.
"The lambs, born in March, have become our lovely pets," head researcher Liu Mingjun told Xinhua, adding that with the CRISPR-Cas9, pet owners can order their pets with customized fur coloring.
He also noted that consumers will be able to buy wool products in various colors that doesn't need to be dyed.
The research team reportedly edited the animals' ASIP gene which affects the color of their fleece.
Genome engineering sheep to look like spotty cows #CRISPR #CustomisedFur #DesignerLivestock #BarrrMooo https://t.co/GWRzCYjK5o— VIB Tech Watch (@VIB Tech Watch)1465375588.0
"The application to large animals indicates more strains of animals, not limited to livestock, will be developed via the approach, with different patterns not limited to coat colors," Liu said about the burgeoning CRISPR technique.
"Compared with traditional gene mutation approaches in which researchers take decades to breed a new strain, gene editing is much more effective."
Translation: these are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on a whole new level. Compared to say, Monsanto's Roundup Ready Bt corn that contains a gene from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis or AquaBounty's GMO salmon that has a gene from eel-like ocean fish, CRISPR-edited foods, like the mushroom mentioned below, or animals, like the "spotty dog" sheep, are altered without adding genes from another species.
As Gizmodo described, the CRISPR-Cas9 allows scientists to precisely edit specific genomes:
Cas9 is an enzyme that snips DNA, and CRISPR is a collection of DNA sequences that tells Cas9 exactly where to snip. All biologists have to do is feed Cas9 the right sequence, called a guide RNA, and boom, you can cut and paste bits of DNA sequence into the genome wherever you want.
The CRISPR is bringing a whole new dimension to the GMO debate, which Americans largely distrust.
There are already several CRISPR projects in development, including DuPont’s drought-resistant wheat and corn, a banana that can resist a fungus that’s threatening its extinction and a herbicide-resistant oilseed from the biotech company Cibus.
In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) paved the way for the first food product—a common white button mushroom genetically altered to browning—made with the CRISPR-Cas9.
#GMO #Mushroom Sidesteps UDSA Regulations https://t.co/Gr1aIt4Bk6 @markhymanmd @foodandwater @NonGMOProject @nutiva https://t.co/bF2FuzJjk9— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1461078334.0
The USDA said it will not regulate the potential cultivation and sale of the mushroom because they had "no reason to believe that CRISPR/Cas9-edited white button mushrooms are plant pests" and "do not contain any introduced genetic material."
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They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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