Biotech Updates

Study Shows CRISPR Mainly Used to Develop High-yielding, Healthier, and Stress-resistant Crops

November 29, 2017

Scientists from France and the U.K. reviewed 52 articles on CRISPR use in crops published from 2014 to mid-2017 in peer-reviewed journals. The result is published in Emerging Topics in Life Sciences.

Results showed that 15 crops were studied for CRISPR application, and the most studied crop is rice, followed by tobacco, Arabidopsis, and corn. Most of the applications of CRISPR were to improve the yield performance of the crops, as well as to improve the nutrient content (biofortification) and the tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses. For viral disease resistance, the reviewers observed two main strategies used:  the integration of CRISPR-coding sequence in the host plant genome that targets and interferes with the virus genome once it is incorporated in the plant to establish a CRISPR-like immune system in the host genome; and the induction of a CRISPR-mediated targeted mutation in the host plant genome that will confer improved virus resistance traits.

In terms of the countries with most studies on CRISPR applications, China and the U.S. ranked first with 22 (42%) and second with 10 articles (19%), respectively. Europe, which includes the U.K., Sweden, France, Hungary, Germany, Austria, and Belgium, had 9 articles (17%) on CRISPR. The other countries which published articles on CRISPR include Saudi Arabia (5 articles), Turkey (5), South Korea (5), Philippines (5), India (5), Japan (4), and Israel (2). According to the authors, this data is consistent with the globalized economic, regulatory and research contexts and can be partly explained by the uncertain regulatory framework in Europe that may be holding back work towards commercial application.

Read the review article in Emerging Topics in Life Sciences.