Gene-editing tool would lead to conservation boost for coral reefs: Stanford University scientists

Scientists at Stanford University used the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system to modify genes in coral, indicating that it could one day help conservation efforts.

According to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, coral reefs on the precipice of collapse may get a conservation boost from the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR.
“Up until now, there hasn’t been a way to ask whether a gene whose expression correlates with coral survival actually plays a causative role,” said Phillip Cleves, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford. “There’s been no method to modify genes in coral and then ask what the consequences are.”
The study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Cleves is the lead author. The scientists found definitive evidence that the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool could be a potent resource for coral biologists.
Cleves hopes that future experiments using CRISPR-Cas9 could help develop a better understanding of basic coral biology “that we then can apply to predict — and perhaps ameliorate — what’s going to happen in the future due to a changing climate.”
CRISPR is a fast, effective tool that can be used to target and modify DNA sequences.