Gene-Editing Approach To Control the Invasive Gray Squirrel

M. Campbell,  Technology Networks,  2021.

Biodiversity refers to the extent of the variety of life that is found on planet Earth – and it is currently under threat. Changes in biodiversity have been flagged as “surpassing safe limits” for several years, and world leaders and scientists across the globe are consequently exploring different ways to address the crisis. Invasive species, defined by National Geographic as “an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area”, threaten planet Earth’s biodiversity to an even greater extent than climate change. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report found that the number of invasive species per country have risen by ~70% since 1970 across 21 countries that were included in the report. An example of an invasive species is the gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis found in the UK, which outcompetes the native red squirrel for resources and habitats and carries diseases that are not pathogenic to themselves but can kill red squirrels.  A recent research publication explores how gene-editing approaches might be applied to the control of invasive gray squirrel.

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