Applying functional genomics to the study of lamprey development and sea lamprey population control

J. R. York, R. E. Thresher and D. W. McCauley,  Journal of Great Lakes Research,  47:S639-S649. 2021.

Lampreys are one of the few survivors of an ancient lineage of jawless vertebrates and have become an important study organism in numerous disciplines in the biological sciences, including evolutionary biology, embryology, ecology, physiology and biomedicine. At the same time, however, lampreys have created economic and ecological problems due, primarily, to the invasion of parasitic sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) into the North American Great Lakes and consequent negative impacts on local fish populations. Barriers, trapping and lampricide treatments have reduced these impacts, but concern for habitat restoration, non-target effects and possible evolution of resistance to lampricides suggests the need to develop additional strategies that supplement current control measures. The advent of functional genomics, and in particular CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, offers a molecular approach to this on-going problem. Here, we review the successful application of functional genetic, transcriptomic, and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technologies in lampreys to address basic research questions in the fields of evolutionary and developmental biology. We then describe how these tools may be repurposed for use by fishery and conservation biologists to approach the problem of invasive sea lamprey from a molecular-genetic perspective.

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