Description: CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It is an immune system in bacteria that has been co-opted by scientists to create a powerful DNA editing tool. It is a powerful tool that can be used in research and may eventually eliminate certain diseases. However it also could allow humans to create designer babies and through the use of gene drives eliminate certain problem species (like mosquitoes) forever. CRISPR, as a new technology, can be used to give meaning to a unit on inheritance and variation.
Description: The author Ernest Hemingway was given a six-toed cat that his son named Snow White. His former home in Key West, Florida was turned into a museum and houses nearly 50 cats that are ancestors of this original cat. Cats with extra digits are called polydactyl cats and have inherited a dominant gene. Roughly half of the cats are polydactyl. This phenomenon could be used to study inheritance and variation.
Description: Sickle-cell anemia is caused by a single nucleotide mutation in the β-globin gene of red blood cells. This creates incorrectly structured proteins and red blood cells with a characteristic "sickle" shape. This harmful mutation does not affect carriers of the disease. However this mutation can be beneficial in certain areas because it offers protection from malarial infections. This phenomenon can be used in a unit on genetics or evolution.