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Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Cas9 Found Applicable to Alfalfa

March 14, 2018

RNA-guided genome engineering using CRISPR-Cas9 enables a variety of applications in plants. Successful application and validation of the CRISPR technique in a multiplex genome, such as that of alfalfa will lead to major advances in the improvement of this crop.

The team of Ruimin Gao from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada used the CRISPR-Cas9 system to target the squamosa promoter binding protein like 9 (SPL9) gene in alfalfa. Due to the complexity of the alfalfa genome, the team first screened large populations of CRISPR-modified plants to select plants with high genome editing rates. These plants were then subjected to further analyses and mutations on the desired target site were verified in these selected plants.

The team successfully applied the CRISPR-Cas9 technique to edit the SPL9 gene in a multiplex alfalfa genome. However, the overall efficiency of CRISPR in the polyploid alfalfa genome was lower compared to other plant genomes. Further refinement of the CRISPR technology system will be required for more efficient genome editing in alfalfa.

For more information on this study, read the article in Planta.