Biotech Updates

Generating RNA Virus Resistance in Plants by Harnessing the CRISPR Immune System

January 17, 2018

The CRISPR-Cas system has been used to develop plants with resistance to DNA virus infections. However, there is no RNA virus control method in plants that uses CRISPR-Cas system to target the viral genome directly.

The team of Tong Zhang from South China Agricultural University reprogrammed the CRISPR-Cas9 system from Francisella novicida to confer molecular immunity against RNA viruses in tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) and Arabidopsis plants.

Plants expressing FnCas9 and the sgRNA specific for the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) or tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) exhibited significantly less virus infection symptoms and reduced viral RNA accumulation. Furthermore, in the transgenic virus-targeting plants, the resistance was inheritable and the progenies showed significantly less virus accumulation.

These data reveal that the CRISPR-Cas9 system can be used to produce a plant with stable resistance to RNA viruses, broadening the use of this technology for virus control in agricultural field.

For more on this study, read the article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.