A paper published in the journal Cell Reports Methods by Cell Press on May 16th, 2022, stated that researchers had developed a CRISPR-Cas9 technique to enable gene editing in cockroaches. The straightforward and effective “direct parental” procedure called the CRISPR (DIPA-CRISPR) involves injecting materials into female adults where eggs are forming rather than into the embryos themselves.
A senior study author, Takaaki Daimon of Kyoto University, says that “In a sense, insect researchers have been freed from the annoyance of egg injections,” He added, “We can now edit insect genomes more freely and at will. In principle, this method should work for more than 90% of insect species.”
However, recent approaches for gene editing in insects require microinjection of materials directly into early embryos, severely limiting its use of too many species. For example, studies in the past have not achieved genetic manipulation of cockroaches due to their one-of-a-kind reproductive system. Insect gene editing often needs expensive equipment with a specific experimental setup and well-skilled laboratory personnel for each species. Daimon says that “These problems with conventional methods have plagued researchers who wish to perform genome editing on a wide variety of insect species,”
“By developing the DIPA-CRISPR method and making it even more effective and versatile we may be able to enable genome editing in almost all of the more than 1.5 million species of insects, opening up a future in which we can fully utilize the amazing biological functions of insects,” Daemon states. He adds, “In principle, it may also be possible that other arthropods could be genome edited using a similar approach. These include agricultural and medical pests such as mites and ticks, and important fishery resources such as shrimp and crabs.”