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Crop Biotech Update

UK's First CRISPR Field Trials Show Potential of Gene Editing

July 1, 2021

Researchers from the John Innes Center conducted the first field application of gene editing technology, CRISPR-Cas9, following the reclassification of gene-edited crops as genetically modified organisms by the European Court of Justice on July 25, 2018.

The researchers studied the role of the MYB28 gene in the regulation of glucosinates found in brassica species. Glucosinate is an organic compound responsible for the pungent flavor of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. It also promotes blood glucose control, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and has anti-carcinogenic properties.

To determine the effect of MYB28, the researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 to knockout the gene in broccoli and found a decrease in glucosinolates accumulation and downregulation of glucosinolate genes. The proof-of-concept study demonstrates the potential of gene-editing technology in developing better crop varieties. The results of the study will be used by the UK Government to determine whether to allow gene editing approaches for food production purposes following the consent for field trials given by The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and comment for release of the product for research by the Advisory Committee on Release to the Environment (ACRE), both of which are available for public review.

To know more about the study, read the press release of the John Innes Center and the journal article in The CRISPR Journal.

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