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Crop Biotech Update

CABBI Reports First Successful Precision Breeding of Sugarcane Using CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing

July 14, 2021
Ayman Eid, CABBI Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Florida, displays gene-edited sugarcane with reduced chlorophyll content. Photo Source: Rajesh Yarra, UF/IFAS Agronomy.

University of Florida researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) reveal the first successful precision breeding of sugarcane by using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, published in two reports in Frontiers in Genome Editing.

In the first report, researchers demonstrated the ability to turn off variable numbers of copies of the magnesium chelatase gene, a key enzyme for chlorophyll biosynthesis in sugarcane, producing rapidly identifiable plants with light green to yellow leaves. Plants with light green leaves did not show growth reduction and may require less nitrogen fertilizer to produce the same amount of biomass. The second study achieved efficient and reproducible gene targeting in sugarcane, showing the precise substitution of multiple copies of the target gene with a superior version, conferring herbicide resistance.

CABBI researcher Fredy Altpeter, Professor of Agronomy at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) said, "Now we have very effective tools to modify sugarcane into a crop with higher productivity or improved sustainability. It's important since sugarcane is the ideal crop to fuel the emerging bioeconomy."

For more details, read the article on the CABBI website.

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