Selfish DNA: how new gene technology could stop the advance of mice

M. McMillan,  Tentenfield Star,  2021.

It used to be that seeing a mouse in the house was a rare occurrence. Now, it’s rarely a day that goes by where we aren’t seeing or hearing the little vermin. Current methods of baiting and trapping are struggling to control the plague of mice spreading across regional Australia. But a $1.8 million investment from the NSW government might soon give us a new weapon in the war. The government is investing in research into the use of gene drives, or “selfish DNA” – a genetic tool that can help us to control pests. How? Well, to understand gene drives we first need to understand the normal way in which genes are inherited. Mice, like humans, have two copies of each gene, one inherited from their mother and one from their father. We call these copies alleles, and they can be exactly the same or slightly different from each other. Normally, there is a 50/50 chance as to which allele will be passed on to any offspring. If one allele carries some sort of mutation, there is a 50 per cent chance that it will be passed on.

More related to this:

The promise and peril of gene drives

Re-Coding for Conservation

The evolutionary consequences of selfish genetic elements

Gene Drive

Gene drive outcomes not determined by genetic variation – A Podcast