While genome editing technologies have been available for the past decade or so, until recently they have been challenging and expensive to use.
The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR/Cas9) system is changing all of that. This bacterial defense system against invading viruses and plasmids is proving to be an extremely effective way to edit genomes of all types, including insect genomes.
Bassett and Liu in the Journal of Genetics and Genomics provide a nice historical review of the technology’s development and application with particular reference to Drosophila.
Table 2 in their manuscript provides a very nice compilation of Web resources for CRISPR/Cas9 study that will be of great value to all insect scientists interested in this technology.
The CRISPR/Cas9 system is much more that a genome editing tool and some of the many alternative uses of nuclease-deficient Cas9 protein in particular are discussed and illustrated.
While the system has enormous potential for modifying and controlling insect genomes, the CRISPR/Cas9 system has limitations. Users and potential users need to be fully aware of what they are. Basset and Liu provide a succinct discussion of those limitations.
Andrew R. Bassett, Ji-Long Liu, CRISPR/Cas9 and Genome Editing in Drosophila, Journal of Genetics and Genomics, Volume 41, Issue 1, 20 January 2014, Pages 7-19, ISSN 1673-8527