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Crop Biotech Update

Gene Editing Breakthrough Seen to Improve Breeding of Barley Crops

August 5, 2020
Murdoch University post-doctoral research fellow Dr. Yong Han, DPIRD research scientist Sue Broughton, and WCGA director Professor Chengdao Li take plant material from the DPIRD Doubled Haploid Laboratory for gene editing. Photo Source: DPIRD

The Western Crop Genetics Alliance, a partnership between the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and Murdoch University, has made a recent breakthrough in gene editing technology that will pave the way for barley varieties with improved yield, quality, and nitrogen-use efficiency. The new technique enables barley genes to be accurately ‘turned on and off' to create a superior trait – something that could not be achieved in Australian varieties with existing technology.

Professor Chengdao Li, Alliance director, said the new technique, called Doubled Haploid CRISPR, provided scientists with a tool to precisely modify existing barley lines and craft enhanced varieties better suited to local conditions. Professor Li said the new technique was a technological leap for breeding new varieties that overcame the shortcomings of existing gene editing platforms for barley. He added the Doubled Haploid CRISPR technology used the doubled haploid technique, which is used to generate fixed barley lines for plant breeders and researchers and has resulted in several commercial varieties.

The researchers tested this approach on four major Australian barley varieties and achieved a successful editing rate of more than 50 percent, which is comparable to the Scottish control variety, in the same period of 10 months. Professor Li said the new technique would create new plant breeding opportunities not only for barley but for other crops as well.

For more details, read the news article in DPIRD News.

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