Keeping Genetically Modified Organisms From Interbreeding


Two MSI PIs, Assistant Professor Michael Smanski (BioTechnology Institute; Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics) and Assistant Professor William Harcombe (BioTechnology Institute; Ecology, Evolution and Behavior) are authors on a study that describes a way to keep genetically engineered organisms from interbreeding with their natural relatives. The technique, called “synthetic incompatibility,” makes the engineered organism a separate species and thus unable to interbreed.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications: Engineering Species-Like Barriers to Sexual Reproduction. An article about the paper appears on the U’s News site: U Scientists Engineer Species-Like Barriers to Reproduction.

Professor Harcombe uses MSI resources to perform simulations of a model three-species microbial community to see how it functions under different conditions. Professor Smanski’s group uses MSI for genomics and bioinformatics investigations of microbial gene clusters and for performing SNP analyses on large datasets.