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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers to Use Gene-editing Technology to Incite Crop Regeneration

September 15, 2021

A group of scientists from the University of Maryland, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, and US Department of Agriculture, is developing a system that involves gene-editing technology to kick-start the regeneration or regrowing of plants from edited cells.

"The limitations of current regeneration methods are throttling the development of enhanced nutritional and agronomic traits," said Jeff Rosichan, director of the Crops of the Future Collaborative. "Breakthroughs in gene editing are constrained if they don't lead to viable, affordable crops. Applying proven gene-editing technology to the problem of crop regeneration bottlenecks will more easily produce crops with enhanced nutrition and agronomic benefits." The Crops of the Future Collaborative received the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research grant to edit crop's genes and speed up regeneration.

At present, only a few plant species respond well to regeneration methods that involve growing cells outside the plant in a suitable environment. Furthermore, regeneration also takes a long time, forcing researchers to predict which crops and traits will be in demand years in advance. Undesired and unpredictable changes to genomes that also often happen during the process.

The researcher will explore using the CRISPR-Combo system, wherein gene-editing RNA will be combined with RNA that activates genes controlling growth. This will speed up the growth of cells outside the plant by making the cells more amenable to regeneration.

Read more from Texas A&M Today.

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