• India
  • Jul 09
  • Kevin Savio Antony

What is genome editing?

The Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) is getting into a mission of genome editing to change the face of aquaculture for the state fish in line with success stories such as Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT).

Pearl spot farmers of Kerala find it difficult to trace out brood stocks and the breeding takes place under uncontrolled conditions leading to fish growing only up to 300-400 grams in a year.

What is genome editing?

• In 1953, J.D. Watson and F.H.C. Crick reported the molecular structure of DNA. Ever since, scientists have tried to develop technologies that can manipulate the genetic material of cells and organisms.

• Genome editing, also called gene editing, is a method for making specific changes to the DNA of a cell or organism. 

• Genome editing can be used to correct, introduce or delete almost any DNA sequence in many different types of cells and organisms. 

• While techniques to modify DNA have existed for several decades, new methods have made genome editing faster, cheaper and more efficient. 

• In 2020, Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer Doudna won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a method of genome editing likened to molecular scissors — CRISPR/Cas9.

Benefits of genome editing:

• It can be used to add, remove or alter DNA in the genome. 

• Human genome editing technologies can be used on somatic cells (non-heritable), germline cells (not for reproduction) and germline cells (for reproduction).

• Application of somatic human genome editing has already been undertaken, including in vivo editing, to address HIV and sickle-cell disease.

• Genome editing is a powerful biotechnological tool with transformative potential for horticultural crops. It involves the precise modification of plant DNA to enhance desired traits, increase crop yield, and confer resistance to pests, diseases, and environmental stresses.

(The author is a trainer for Civil Services aspirants.)

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