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Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Cas9 Could Provide the Much-needed Help on Food Security against Climate Change

March 3, 2021
Dr. Karen Massel used CRISPR-Cas9 to sorghum and barley pre-breeding programs

Researchers from The University of Queensland have published a review on gene editing technologies that could safeguard food security by improving our farming systems under extreme conditions brought about by climate change.

Dr. Karen Massel, the lead researcher of the study, encouraged the use of CRISPR-Cas9 paired with transgenics to improve the development of cereal crops such as rice, wheat, corn, barley, and sorghum. With 15 crop plants, these energy-rich cereal crops provide 90% of the world's food calories.

"Farmers have been manipulating the DNA of plants using conventional breeding technologies for millennia, and now with new gene-editing technologies, we can do this with unprecedented safety, precision, and speed," said Dr. Massel.

Another important highlight of the study of Dr. Massel is the comparison of genome sequences of wild variants and ancestors of cereals under extreme and different kinds of stresses. The study demonstrated how genome editing tools can be implemented into breeding programs for crop improvement of cereal crops to fight serious threats on agricultural production against the changing climate in the years to come.

For more details, read the article in UQ News.

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