Gene drive technology allows scientists to pick and choose which genes will be passed onto offspring. “Normally, a progeny inherits one copy of DNA for a certain gene from the father and one from the mother,” says Yunde Zhao, a researcher at the Univ. of California San Diego (UCSD). “Gene drive technology enables progeny to acquire both copies of the target gene from a single parent, while maintaining normal inheritance in all other regions of the genome. You can imagine that gene drive technology leads to the target gene becoming more prevalent over successive generations. The essence of a gene drive is ‘cut and copy’ DNA.”
In the past, scientists have used gene drives to modify genes in insects that carry vector-borne diseases such as malaria. The gene drive can reduce a mosquito’s ability to breed or limit their ability to pass on the disease, thus helping stop the spread of the disease from insects to humans. Now, researchers at UCSD are using gene drive technology to modify genetic elements in plants, mainly to breed more resilient crops. These modified crops could better withstand...
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