Biotech Updates

The Use of Viral Vectors for Plant Genome Editing

April 19, 2017

Recent advances in genome engineering (GE) have made it possible to precisely alter DNA sequences in plant cells. However, its efficiency depends on the delivery method of both sequence-specific nucleases and repair templates. Typically, this is achieved using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation or particle bombardment, both of which transform only a subset of cells in treated tissues.

More efficient GE reagents delivery methods are clearly needed if GE is to become routine. Recently, autonomously replicating virus-based vectors have been demonstrated as efficient means of delivering GE reagents in plants. Both DNA viruses and RNA virus have demonstrated efficient gene targeting frequencies in model plants and crops.

Geminivirus vectors have recently been developed as promising tools to improve homology-directed repair in plants. However, there are still several issues needed to be addressed for improvement of this recent technique as regenerating plants transformed with geminivirus vectors has proven extremely difficult. Recently developed Tobacco rattle virus (TRV)-mediated CRISPR-Cas9 delivery system also has the potential to bypass the laborious and time-consuming tissue culture practices to develop plants with desirable engineered traits.

Syed Shan-e-Ali Zaidi and Shahid Mansoor from National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering in Pakistan discussed the recent advances in using viral vectors for plant genome engineering, the current limitations, and future directions.

For more information, read the full article in Frontiers in Plant Science.