Biotech Updates

Scientists Use CRISPR to Modify Promoters and Boost Crop Yields

December 20, 2017

Daniel Rodríguez-Leal, a 2016 Pew Latin American fellow, and Zachary Lippman of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory used CRISPR genome-editing technology to modify the sequences within the promoter of genes that are important to tomato yield. The study could provide a catalog of beneficial plant variants that growers could use to easily choose the best growth traits and adjust them during future growing seasons.

Through minimal modifications in the promoters, the researchers rapidly generated several versions that are vital in the overall production of tomatoes, including plant architecture and shape as well as fruit size. Through the use of CRISPR to modify the promoters instead of the genes, they were able to fine-tune the output of yield genes. For instance, the researchers observed how overall yield changed as a result of changing the number of floral organs and locules (the gelatinous seed cavities within the tomato), which can determine just how big the fruit will grow.

Read the media release from The Pew Charitable Trusts for more information.