Smartphones, superglue, electric cars, video chat. When does the wonder of a new technology wear off? When you get so used to its presence that you don’t think of it anymore? When something newer and better comes along? When you forget how things were before?
Whatever the answer, the gene-editing technology CRISPR has not reached that point yet. Ten years after Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier first introduced their discovery of CRISPR, it has remained at the center of ambitious scientific projects and complicated ethical discussions. It continues to create new avenues for exploration and reinvigorate old studies. Biochemists use it, and so do other scientists: entomologists, cardiologists, oncologists, zoologists, botanists.
Cathie Martin, a botanist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, and Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men superhero team: They both love mutants.
But while Professor X has an affinity for superpowered human mutants, Dr. Martin is partial to the red and juicy type. “We always craved mutants, because that allowed us to understand functionality,” Dr. Martin said of her research, which focuses on plant genomes in the hopes of finding ways...