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A 5,000-year vegetation and fire history for tierra firme forests in the Medio Putumayo-Algodon watersheds, northeastern Peru [Anthropology]

This paper addresses an important debate in Amazonian studies; namely, the scale, intensity, and nature of human modification of the forests in prehistory. Phytolith and charcoal analysis of terrestrial soils underneath mature tierra firme (nonflooded, nonriverine) forests in the remote Medio Putumayo-Algodón watersheds, northeastern Peru, provide a...

Pre-Columbian fire management and control of climate-driven floodwaters over 3,500 years in southwestern Amazonia [Anthropology]

In landscapes that support economic and cultural activities, human communities actively manage environments and environmental change at a variety of spatial scales that complicate the effects of continental-scale climate. Here, we demonstrate how hydrological conditions were modified by humans against the backdrop of Holocene climate change in southwestern...

Revisions to USDA biotechnology regulations: The SECURE rule [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

In keeping with the directive in Executive Order 13874 (Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products) to adopt regulatory approaches that are proportionate to risk and avoid arbitrary distinctions across like products, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revised its biotechnology regulations by promulgating the Sustainable,...

What we know about effective public engagement on CRISPR and beyond [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

Advances in gene editing technologies for human, plant, and animal applications have led to calls from bench and social scientists, as well as a wide variety of societal stakeholders, for broad public engagement in the decision-making about these new technologies. Unfortunately, there is limited understanding among the groups calling for...

Toward the correction of muscular dystrophy by gene editing [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

Recent advances in gene editing technologies are enabling the potential correction of devastating monogenic disorders through elimination of underlying genetic mutations. Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an especially severe genetic disorder caused by mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin, a membrane-associated protein required for maintenance...

CRISPR, animals, and FDA oversight: Building a path to success [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

Technological advances, such as genome editing and specifically CRISPR, offer exciting promise for the creation of products that address public health concerns, such as disease transmission and a sustainable food supply and enable production of human therapeutics, such as organs and tissues for xenotransplantation or recombinant human proteins to treat...

Synthetic threads through the web of life [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

CRISPR-Cas gene editing tools have brought us to an era of synthetic biology that will change the world. Excitement over the breakthroughs these tools have enabled in biology and medicine is balanced, justifiably, by concern over how their applications might go wrong in open environments. We do not know how...

Attaining the promise of plant gene editing at scale [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

Crop improvement relies heavily on genetic variation that arises spontaneously through mutation. Modern breeding methods are very adept at combining this genetic variation in ways that achieve remarkable improvements in plant performance. Novel traits have also been created through mutation breeding and transgenesis. The advent of gene editing, however,...

Analysis of off-target effects in CRISPR-based gene drives in the human malaria mosquito [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

CRISPR-Cas9 nuclease-based gene drives have been developed toward the aim of control of the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Gene drives are based on an active source of Cas9 nuclease in the germline that promotes super-Mendelian inheritance of the transgene by homology-directed repair (“homing”). Understanding whether CRISPR-induced off-target...

Targeted DNA insertion in plants [Colloquium Papers (free online)]

Conventional methods of DNA sequence insertion into plants, using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation or microprojectile bombardment, result in the integration of the DNA at random sites in the genome. These plants may exhibit altered agronomic traits as a consequence of disruption or silencing of genes that serve a critical function. Also, genes...

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