Improving livestock to boost food production for a growing global population is a long-standing aim. For the first time, scientists have created animals that can serve as viable ‘surrogate sires’, male animals that produce sperm carrying only the genetic traits of donor animals.
The researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 to produce mice, pigs, goats and cattle that lacked a gene specific to male fertility. Scientists say the advance could quicken the spread of desirable characteristics in livestock, such as resistance to harsh weather, and could benefit farmers in the developing word. However, current government regulations prevent these gene-edited animals being used in the food chain.
This study is published in PNAS.
Prof Jon Oatley, Director, Center for Reproductive Biology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University
Prof Bruce Whitelaw, Interim Director, the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh
Prof Irina Polejaeva, Associate Professor, College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, Utah State University
This briefing was accompanied by an SMC Roundup of Comments