CRISPR for coping with climate change
While the applications of CRISPR in healthcare has been termed “disruptive”, an equally compelling area for research is in exploring applications on addressing climate change problems.
- Developing crops more resistant to environmental stresses. Given that the rise in temperature has already triggered climatic changes in certain regions and emergence of more extreme events (droughts, floods, heatwaves, increased salinity). Crops that can thrive in drought prone areas (Belgium is developing drought resistant maize) or tolerate increased saline levels (University of Chile growing high saline level tolerant tomatoes and kiwi) or have higher yield.
- Developing new biofuels generation methods: Editing genomes of algae for increased biofuel production.
- Editing microbes for increasing the nutritional content of the soil, changing gas absorption and emission. Eg: certain plants to absorb more carbon-di-oxide, reduce methane production etc.
- Editing microbes for precision fermentation and to increase protein yields for plant based meat products. These will make the products commercially viable.
- Increasing shelf life of food to reduce wastage and in turn, reduce carbon di-oxide emission.