Biotech Updates

CRISPR Helps Make Naturally Orange Petunias

November 22, 2023

Sara Abdou researches plants at Wageningen University & Research in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Photo Source: Francesco Rucci and Francesco Marinelli for Nature

Sara Abdou, a biotechnologist and PhD student at Wageningen University & Research is working on the flower color of petunias. Using tissue samples, Sara analyzes pigments and the genetics behind them, and she is eager to create orange petunias.

White petunias exist in nature, but not bright orange and yellow ones. Sara wants to create orange petunias not by introducing a gene from another species, but by fixing the genetic pathway that stops petunias from being naturally orange. Using the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, Sara makes changes at precise locations in the petunia's genome. Sara says she prefers to use CRISPR-Cas9 because it is faster, cheaper, more accurate, and more efficient than other genome editing methods.

Sara's work is also applicable to crops, as the pigment pathway in petunia is similar to that of other crops and plant species. She hopes to apply her work in producing orange colors using gene editing to other plants.

For more details, read the article in Nature.

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