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Crop Biotech Update

Scientist Introduces CRISPR 3.0 System for Highly Efficient Gene Activation in Plants

July 7, 2021

Yiping Qi, associate professor of Plant Science at the University of Maryland (UMD), has introduced a new and improved CRISPR 3.0 system in plants that focuses on gene activation instead of traditional gene editing.

The CRISPR 3.0 system focuses on multiplexed gene activation, meaning that it can boost the function of multiple genes simultaneously. The researchers said that this system boosts four to six times the activation capacity of current state-of-the-art CRISPR technology, with high accuracy and efficiency in up to seven genes at once. While CRISPR is more often known for its gene editing capabilities that can knock out genes that are undesirable, activating genes to gain functionality is essential to creating better plants and crops for the future.

Qi and his team have already validated the CRISPR 3.0 system in rice, tomatoes, and Arabidopsis, showing the simultaneous activation of many kinds of genes, including faster flowering to speed up the breeding process. But this is just one of the many advantages of multiplexed activation, says Qi. His team is looking forward to using the system to screen the genome more effectively and efficiently for genes that can help in the fight against climate change and global hunger. "We can design, tailor, and track gene activation with this new system on a larger scale to screen for genes of importance, and that will be very enabling for discovery and translational science in plants," he added.

For more details, read the article on the UMD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources website.

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