The government has announced its intention to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050. Prime Minister John Key said rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million native birds a year. He said the introduced pests also threatened the country’s economy and primary sector with a total cost of $3.3 billion a year. More than 7000 hectares of the New Zealand mainland as well as more than 150 offshore islands were now completely free of predators, Mr Key said. In addition a further 1 million hectares of conservation land were under sustained predator control. The government will invest $28 million in a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Ltd.
In 2012, Jennifer Dounda and her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier published an article showing how a specific gene drive, known as CRISPR-Cas9, can be used to “drive” certain genetic properties through wild populations with astonishing ease. Gene drives are natural genetic systems that allow certain genes to bypass the rules of inheritance and thereby make themselves more likely to be passed along. The CRISPR system, modeled after a bacterial immune system, can be used to target and cut out specific sections of DNA (genes) and replace it with another desired sequence. While gene drives have been known about for a long time, the CRISPR system is a landmark discovery because for the first time geneticists have a tool that allows them to easily manipulate the genetic composition of wild populations.
It’s a familiar story on islands all over the world where rodents — prolific feeders and breeders — are a leading cause of extinctions. Massive efforts have been undertaken to kill invasive rodents and usually involve broadcasting rodenticide; other options, like trapping mice or releasing biological controls in the form of snakes or cats, have been ineffective.
Bone, tissue, and feathers show the almost 100-million-year-old wings are remarkably similar to those on modern birds.
What would our cells say if they could blog? We’ll soon know – the CRISPR gene editing technique has been adapted to make cells keep a log of what happens to them, written inside their own DNA.
Such CRISPR-based logging could have a huge range of uses, from smart cells that monitor our health from within, to helping us understand exactly how our bodies develop and grow.
Uberisation is the latest buzzword to describe the disruption of industries by slick digital platforms connecting workers with specific tasks or services. So where does science stand in the brave new uberised world? For every characteristic of uberisation, there is a parallel in the world of research. This raises the question of whether research uberised before Uber even existed? In this article, EuroScientist, looks into whether science was ahead of its time and explores what we can expect in the future.