The mission of Revive & Restore is to enhance biodiversity through new techniques of genetic rescue for endangered and extinct species.
It is widely documented that the nature of humanity’s impact on Earth has reduced many wildlife populations to a precarious state and caused some complete extinctions. But many of those losses may be reversed with the promising emergence of a suite of new genetic tools. Exciting collaborative projects in genomic conservation are rapidly emerging as a result.
Revive & Restore is developing a spectrum of applications for these new tools that range from providing innovative genetic insights and rescue tools for persistent conservation challenges to reversing the inexorable demise of critically imperiled species. Ultimately, advances in our understanding of these technologies may make it possible to resurrect species that have already been lost.
As with any emerging technology, we need to be deliberate and to openly consider the ethical, regulatory and societal implications of these new tools.
Revive & Restore is expanding a network of practitioners involved with applying biotechnology to biodiversity challenges. This enables the conservationists, scientists, institutions, funders, and regulators to contribute to the development of this rapidly growing body of knowledge and bioethical standards. Revive & Restore is a hub for these efforts and the requisite work to develop them – sometimes directly, sometimes as convener or networker, sometimes as lead funder, and sometimes simply as champion.
The new conservation tools & practices Revive & Restore is working to advance are:
- The bio-banking of tissues and cell lines can preserve the genetic resources of endangered wildlife through cryopreservation techniques. These resources are being used for long-term research and genetic rescue applications.
- Genetic insight, resulting from sequencing data, can empirically inform conservation decisions for species and habitats. For instance, the management of captive breeding programs or the release-and-translocation of animals can be based on a much more precise understanding of specific population genetics and pedigree of individuals being bred or released.
- Advanced reproductive techniques such as artificial insemination, culturing of primordial germ cells for germ-line transmission, stem cell embryogenesis, and cloning offer an array of new ways to expand and even infuse lost and new genetic variability into at-risk wildlife populations.
- Genomic engineering uses advanced genomic editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 to confer resistance to disease, facilitate adaptive capabilities in the face of a rapidly changing climate, and help to abate the threats from non-native invasive species.
- Molecular biology is being used to guide the production of commercially viable synthetic alternatives to wildlife-derived products, eliminating the harvest and marketing of wildlife including some endangered species.
- De-extinction expands ecological restoration capabilities. It is perhaps the ultimate form of genetic rescue, demanding the advancement and application of many genetic rescue tools to revive the habitat function of important missing species. The advances along the way will likely provide meaningful answers to more immediate conservation challenges.