CRISPR a Tool for Conservation, Not Just Gene Editing

Check out the latest article posted on the UC Davis website featuring the work of GVL scientists Alisha GoodblaRavi Nagarajan, and Andrea Schreier

"The gene-editing technology CRISPR has been used for a variety of agricultural and public health purposes — from growing disease-resistant crops to, more recently, a diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Now a study involving fish that look nearly identical to the endangered Delta smelt finds that CRISPR can be a conservation and resource management tool, as well. The researchers think its ability to rapidly detect and differentiate among species could revolutionize environmental monitoring.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources, was led by scientists at the University of California, Davis, and the California Department of Water Resources in collaboration with MIT Broad Institute.

As a proof of concept, it found that the CRISPR-based detection platform SHERLOCK (Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter Unlocking) was able to genetically distinguish threatened fish species from similar-looking nonnative species in nearly real time, with no need to extract DNA.

'CRISPR can do a lot more than edit genomes,' said co-author Andrea Schreier, an adjunct assistant professor in the UC Davis animal science department. 'It can be used for some really cool ecological applications, and we’re just now exploring that.'"

For the full article written by Kat Kerlin visit: and visit the GVL project page to find out more!