Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Cas9: Plant Breeding at the Speed of Light

May 15, 2019

Experts from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany described the CRISPR-Cas9 system and its ability to generate directed genetic diversity at multiple sites. They referred to the system as a tool for plant breeding at the speed of light. The review article is published in BMC Plant Biology.

According to Felix Wolter and co-authors, conventional plant breeding methods have successfully generated high yielding crop varieties. However, the long process of development has impoverished the genetic diversity available for breeding. With the CRISPR-Cas9 system, there are new opportunities to improve genetic diversity like never before. Because of its multiplexing ability, multiple targets can be modified at the same time efficiently, allowing immediate pyramiding of several desired traits into an elite background within one generation. Through targeting regulatory elements, a selectable range of transcriptional alleles can be generated, which allows precise fine-tuning of desirable traits. Furthermore, targeting homologues of so-called domestication genes within one generation, will catapult neglected, semi-domesticated and wild plants quickly into the focus of mainstream agriculture.

Read the review article for more details.