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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Plant Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #442521

Research Project: Discovery, Improvement, and Testing of Genetics that are Socially Acceptable for Genome Editing in Animal Agriculture

Location: Plant Genetics Research

Project Number: 5070-31320-001-006-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 15, 2022
End Date: Jul 14, 2023

Objective 1: Determine genetic mechanisms of poultry resistance/susceptibility to Marek’s disease. Objective 2: Design, produce, and evaluate genome edits for improved aspects of amino acid metabolism. Objective 3: Develop methods to evaluate cross-species utility of novel genes in the innate immune system. Objective 4: Determine current public perceptions about animal genome editing technologies.

Objective 1: Lines of chickens exist that vary in resistance and/or susceptibility to Marek's disease. This project will evaluate cell-type specific variation in gene expression between these lines of chickens. Differences in transcript level or form (alternative splicing, promoters, or polyadenylation) will be used as a phenotype to compare with existing genome wide association studies and allele frequency. This work is intended to guide the development of methods and systems for in vitro validation of disease phenotypes. Objective 2: This effort will evaluate the potential use of biochemical pathways that are novel to poultry and/or livestock. Specifically, the genes for biochemical pathways will be evaluated in cultured cells, embryos, or animals to determine the agricultural utility of specific genome edits. The initial focus will be on the biosynthesis of the essential amino acids. Objective 3: This effort will evaluate gene editing to adapt poultry and livestock genomes to defend against pathogen threats. Specifically, methodology will be developed to evaluate aspects of innate immunity in vitro. In addition, genes (or variants) that are known to be associated with innate immunity will be evaluated in cultured cells, embryos, or animals to determine the agricultural utility of specific genome edits in disease resistance. Objective 4: We propose to: 1) develop studies to understand current public perceptions about genome editing technologies, the factors that influence acceptable application (phenotypes), and the ways animal products may be marketed (implementation); and 2) develop outreach efforts to help address concerns and misconceptions about these same factors (technology, application, and implementation). This project will design, perform and analyze surveys related to public perception. Similarly, the project will experimentally evaluate methods and language that may be used to communicate genome editing.