Gene Editing Technology May Control Invasive Species, But Can We Master the Monster Dr. Frankenstein?

aquatic invaders

Treating a lake for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) has proven to be very difficult. It is hard to find chemicals that are targeted to impact only the invasive without eradicating the native plants. Treatment must be ongoing, year after year, because eradication has proven to be almost impossible. AIS management is expensive, and tallies into the millions in Minnesota each year.

What is needed is something that can be put in a lake that is targeted to kill only one species, is self replicating so that it only needs to be introduced once, and is affordable.

We are at the cusp of finding just that solution, but the implications of this solution do give pause and raise concerns.

At the 2016 Aquatic Invaders Summit attendees will hear a presentation on CRISPR gene drive technology, a method of editing the genes of living organisms in specific ways that, when introduced into a population, cause it to die off. It is a programmed fatal flaw. The process is inexpensive and relatively easy to accomplish. It would allow managers to create a strain of zebra mussel that would produce only male offspring, for instance. The gene is passed on to all future generations and quickly takes over wild populations so that all zebra mussels in a given lake would soon be male, resulting in a complete crash of the population.  This technology solves all of the above problems, cheap, easy, needs to be only introduced once and highly targeted.

But it is easy to see the risks of such a technology. What environmental ripples would the global loss of mosquitoes, for instance, cause? What would be the ecological impacts if zebra mussels from Lake Minnetonka made their way back to the Caspian Sea where zebra mussels are native? Species like bighead carp that are environmentally devastating in the United State are a major food source in China? This powerful technology holds amazing promise, but also raises important questions about ethical ramifications, risk management, and appropriate application and regulation.

At the 2016 Aquatic Invaders Summit Chris Merkes and Jon Amberg from the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, US Geological Survey will give a presentation about CRISPR gene drive technology, the potential uses and the potential risks. In the years to come you will hear more about this technology. There is no doubt that the debate regarding its use will be intense and ongoing.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers are developing methods to control CRISPR by adding a “Daisy Chain” to the gene drive. For a short video on this, click HERE.

This is just one of the more than 50 presentations available at the 2016 Aquatic Invaders Summit.

The 2016 Aquatic Invaders Summit will feature both national cutting edge programs and technology with the innovation and success of Minnesota’s best programs.

Space at the River’s Edge Convention Center is limited and we have to cap registrations at 450 due to space constraints. So register today. 

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PullUSA is the official publication of the USA High School Clay Target League, the fastest-growing high school sport in the nation. This quarterly magazine is direct mailed and digitally delivered to more than 20,000 recipients including student athletes, head coaches, gun clubs, subscribers and shooting sport enthusiasts throughout more than a dozen states. PullUSA tells the compelling stories of these student athletes (grades 6-12), coaches and volunteers.

The magazine will cover human interest features, lifestyle stories, tips, product reviews, college prep and more from the world of clay target shooting sports. Our readers don’t just shoot clay targets – they hunt, fish, camp, and excel in the classroom. This is the most efficient and effective vehicle to reach these avid outdoor families. Target your market on all fronts with print, online and email with content and distribution. Take your best shot – PullUSA!



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Click here to view the Media Guide. For more information, contact Josh Kroells at or call 952-994-2427.

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Living Shorelines, the Corps Announces Deauthorization of Water Resources Projects, Copy of NWP Comment Letter

On Behalf Of The Water Protection Network


Living shorelines is the latest buzz word in the environmental world–and with good reason. Revolutionizing shoreline stabilization techniques, living shorelines include a range of methods that use natural materials such as vegetation, fiber logs, and marsh sills. When comparing nature to concrete, the benefits are clear.

A recent study by lead author Rachel Gittman, a postdoctoral research associate at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center, analyzed 54 existing studies on shoreline hardening, which showed devastating impacts on wildlife and habitat. The study found biodiversity was 23 percent lower, and organism abundance 45 percent lower in shorelines with hardened infrastructure over shorelines protected with nature-based solutions. When compared to shoreline hardening techniques, like bulkheads and sea walls, living shorelines have proven to be more effectiveat preventing erosion, more resilient to storms and sea level rise, more cost-effective to install and maintain, provide refuge and foraging opportunities, and support a higher abundance and more diverse wildlife.

And it looks like the message is getting out! In its recent request for comments on Nationwide Permits, the Army Corp put forth Nationwide Permit B to facilitate the use of living shorelines.

“The living shoreline piece is a part of what we’re pushing as a nonstructural, nature-based method that is a lot less costly.”~ Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers



The Army Corps of Engineers has released multiple notices announcing the deauthorization of certain water resources projects. For more information, scroll down to the Federal Register Notices at the bottom of this email.



In case you missed it…
A total of 72 Members of The Water Protection Network signed the following letter. Click on the link to download the letter for your files. Please let me know if you have additional questions or problems saving the letter for your files.

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