Crop Biotech Update

IITA Study Explores CRISPR Genome Editing for Africa's Major Staples

June 9, 2022

Gene-edited banana in a greenhouse. Photo Source: Jaindra Tripathi/IITA

A study led by Leena Tripathi, Research Director at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), explores the recent advances and progress in CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing efforts with major staple food crops grown in several countries in Africa.

The researchers used genome editing tools to improve African staple crops for resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses and improved nutritional quality. The crops under development include disease resistant bananas, maize resistant to lethal necrosis, and sorghum resistant to the parasitic plant Striga and enhanced quality for African farmers.

“Genome editing tool is one of the powerful technologies available in the crop improvement toolbox, which can be used along with other tools for improving agriculture to feed the world's rapidly growing population. It can develop improved crop varieties with no foreign gene integration like those created through conventional breeding,” explained Tripathi. She added that genome-edited products are not regulated as GMOs in several countries, including two countries in Africa: Kenya and Nigeria.

For more details, read the news release from IITA.

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