Weekly reads: CRISPR chicks, HSCs, sequencing Mendel

I tend to perhaps over-focus on human CRISPR or gene editing, but other applications including in agriculture are definitely going to be huge.

CRISPR in agriculture

One that I’ve been following for a long time is the use of CRISPR to prevent cows from growing horns.

Why is that a big deal?

Just in the US alone, millions of cows have their horns removed annually. This is a painful process. If CRISPR could make it largely unnecessary that would be such a great accomplishment. By the way, you might this post on CRISPR critters to be of interest.

Before we go on, Happy New Year!

CRISPR chicks
These three CRISPR’d chicks will only produce female offspring. Image from Volcani.

A new story with gene editing in chickens caught my eye and resonated with the cow gene editing goals on some levels.

Gene-edited hens may end cull of billions of chicks, BBC. I didn’t realize that billions of male chicks are killed each year with the focus on keeping female, egg-laying chickens. This great new gene-editing approach means that after egg exposure to blue light during development, only female chicks will be born. All those males don’t have to be produced and killed. I found what seems to be the patent for this technology, which involves CRISPR-Cas9.

There’s more upside to agricultural gene editing that involves vertebrates, whereas I see work in insects as much riskier. The latter is still quite interesting.

More recommended reads

1 thought on “Weekly reads: CRISPR chicks, HSCs, sequencing Mendel”

  1. Regarding the selection of female chicks by inducing destruction of the homogametic male (ZZ) embryo’s Z chromosomes. The patent just indicates a method for targeting Z sex chromosomes in embryos while in the egg. I don’t know anything about bird genetics, but wouldn’t the heterogametic female bird embryos (ZW) need a Z-chromosome to develop? How can CRIPSR avoid delivering a lethal modification to those?

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