Beth just posted a much-anticipated BioRxiv preprint describing our new efforts to repurpose CRISPR technology in ways that might help overcome persistent drawbacks to PCR and other targeted enrichment strategies in molecular ecology (doi: 10.1101/2023.06.30.547247v1). We show that we can obtain highly accurate plant DNA barcodes and assemble entire chloroplast genomes. These advances could help with species identification, discovery, and the construction of DNA reference libraries for use in a variety of applications. Moreover, we show incredible accuracy when it comes to estimating the relative abundance of DNA from a mixture of species compared to typical PCR-based methods for DNA metabarcoding.
We hope the experimental methods will be of interest and that folks working in the field will see the great potential. Once scalable, these advantages could really transform the quality and completeness of many projects that we do in the lab -- and the kinds of project we know a lot of folks are out there trying to do around the world as well!
The approach was noted to be a potentially 'high risk / high reward' of the NSF CAREER award that supported our work. We'll update once it is peer-reviewed and published.