CRISPR-Cas Biology & Engineering

Bacteria and archaea are constantly exposed to a diversity of mobile genetic elements, such as bacteriophages and (conjugative) plasmids.

This incoming genetic material has a major impact on the evolution of these microorganisms, for example by introducing new metabolic pathways and antibiotic resistance, thereby affecting their fitness. For this reason, prokaryotes employ different strategies to control the delicate balance between DNA uptake and rejection. One of these strategies involves the adaptive immune system CRISPR-Cas.

Advances in our understanding of these systems have triggered a revival in genomic engineering. Several CRISPR-Cas systems have been studied in recent years, but there are still many systems that remain completely uncharacterized. Following his recently award of an NWO-Veni grant, Raymond Staals has joined the Bacterial Genetics group to study these novel CRISPR-Cas systems and to explore their potential as an advanced genetic tool.