Crop Biotech Update

Cotton Gene Editing Project to Help Reduce Infestations and Pesticide Use

September 7, 2022
Texas cotton producers have benefitted from decades of public-private collaborations between Texas A&M AgriLife, USDA, and Cotton Incorporated. Photo Source: Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Laura McKenzie

The Department of Entomology at Texas A&M AgriLife, U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and Cotton Incorporated are working on a collaborative three-year project to research novel pest management tools for cotton production. Titled Modifying Terpene Biosynthesis in Cotton to Enhance Insect Resistance Using a Transgene-free CRISPR-Cas9 Approach, the project could provide positive cost-benefit results that ripple through the economy and environment.

The NIFA project led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist Greg Sword will focus on enhancing cotton plant resistance to insect pests. Their goal is to silence genes in cotton that produce monoterpenes, the chemicals that produce an odor pest insects home in on. By removing odors that pests associate with a good place to feed and reproduce, scientists believe they can reduce infestations, which will in turn reduce pesticide use and improve profitability.

For more details, read the article in AgriLife Today.

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