Containment Strategies for Synthetic Gene Drive Organisms and Impacts on Gene Flow

L. Pei and M. Schmidt,  GENE FLOW: Monitoring, Modeling and Mitigation,  2021.

Gene drives, particularly synthetic gene drives, may help to address some important challenges, by efficiently altering specific sections of DNA in entire populations of wild organisms. Here we review the current development of the synthetic gene drives, especially those RNA-guided synthetic gene drives based on the CRISPR nuclease Cas. Particular focuses are on their possible applications in agriculture (e.g. disease resistance, weed control management), ecosystem conservation (e.g. evasion species control), health (e.g. to combat insect-borne and fungal infections), and for basic research in model organisms (e.g. Saccharomyces, fruit fly, and zebra fish). The physical, chemical, biological, and ecological containment strategies that might help to confine these gene drive-modified organisms are then explored. The gene flow issues, those from gene drive-derived organisms to the environment, are discussed, while possible mitigation strategies for gene drive research are explored. Last but not least, the regulatory context and opinions from key stakeholders (regulators, scientists, and concerned organizations) are reviewed, aiming to provide a more comprehensive overview of the field.

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