How do you get rid of rodents? A new genetic mousetrap could work

In the animated comedy of 2006 wipe awayJames, a pet rat pampered by the voice of Hugh Jackman, gets pushed down the toilet and into the sewage town of Ratropolis. In his attempt to get home, he discovers a plot by the head of the animal gang, The Toad, to flood Ratropolis with a wave of droppings during a bathroom break at halftime at the FIFA World Cup. Look, the toad was Prince Charles’ pet, but then Charles got a rat and flushed it down the toilet, so now he hates rats and… the whole thing.

Humans have also been known to create intricate mousetraps throughout our history. Normally, we’re not spurred on by the slightest realization at the hands of all rodents everywhere, but mice and rats posed a threat to health and resources over time, and in response we thought of all kinds of ways to get rid of them. Now, thanks to scientists at the University of Adelaide, we may have a mousetrap to end all mousetraps. According to a recent paper Posted in Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesWe’re taking the fight straight to their DNA.

For many of us, rodents are just an occasional nuisance Or even a beloved pet, but in some places, it is invasive and harmful to both humans and other species. This is especially true in enclosed environments such as islands, where particularly insidious rodents can spread so quickly that they displace native species. With this issue in mind, researchers at Adelaide developed a modified version of CRISPRwhich they call t-CRISPR, to drive a boom throughout the population.

Liz Christina Koch

This brand of genetic engineering is often called gene drive and differs from traditional gene editing in one important way. Traditionally, gene editing modifies a trait or group of traits in an individual, but these changes are not necessarily inherited by any offspring. Genetic drive increases the likelihood that a trait or set of traits will be passed on to the next generation. For this work, the scientists relied on a naturally occurring mutation in mice that renders them sterile. By targeting this mutation and increasing the likelihood of it being inherited, you get an increasingly large number of infertile mice, and the overall population decreases. At least, that’s what the models show.

The team used advanced computer modeling to simulate an environment with an invading population of 200,000 mice. Then they inserted only 250 mice modified with the genetic mutation of desired fertility, and they tuned the simulation’s turnover. They found that their genetic driver could drive the inheritance of that mutation to speed up and wipe out the entire population over the course of just 20 years.

Of course, the simulation is only as good as its realistic results, depending on the ability to make genetically modified mice able to pass on the faulty genes. To find out, the team engineered mice transgenic with T-CRISPR and confirmed that they had a biased transmission—which further increased genetics—of the target mutation at levels that successfully wiped out the population in the simulation.

It’s worth noting that genetically engineering a population of this scale has some moral and ethical considerations that need to be worked out before we move on fully. These conversations are going on like Similar efforts to use gene drives on insect populations being developed. There is an argument to be made that this kind of genetic control of population is the humane solution. Does not include traumatic traps or chemicals of any kind. Breed mice will live their lives as they normally do, and will have fewer and fewer offspring in each subsequent generation until they fade away.

Instead of snares and poisons, we will slowly turn their genes into a tightrope. It’s kind of a mouse trap that you can’t escape because you don’t even know you’re in it.

It’s something of a fan

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