CRISPR crop development proceeds rapidly, but ‘bottlenecks’ limit promise

plant x
Credit: Michael Gottschalk/Photothek/Getty Images

Since its discovery as a bacterial adaptive immune system and its development for genome editing in eukaryotes, the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technology has revolutionized plant research and precision crop breeding. The CRISPR toolbox holds great promises to produce crops with genetic disease resistance to increase resilience of agriculture and reduce chemical crop protection with strong impact on environment and public health.

In this review, we provide an extensive overview on recent breakthroughs in CRISPR technology including the newly developed prime editing system allowing precision gene editing in plants. We present how each CRISPR tool can be selected for optimal use in accordance with its specific strengths and limitations, and illustrate how the CRISPR toolbox can foster the development of genetically pathogen-resistant crops for sustainable agriculture.

The CRISPR toolbox for precision breeding in plants greatly expanded in the last few years, allowing the precise and predictable editing of almost any locus in the genome, at least in theory. While improvements of the newly prime editing system are needed, plant scientists have now access to a highly versatile genome editing toolbox for both functional genomics and molecular crop breeding.

While transformation of major plant crops such as rice, wheat, tomato or potato is well established, some bottlenecks still stand in the way for broad use of CRISPR in crop precision breeding.

Related article:  We have the power to wipe out mosquitoes and malaria—but is that a good idea?
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

As a result, while we are now able to precisely edit target sites through highly specific CRISPR tools, a special focus should be put on minimizing CRISPR-independent side effects, highlighting the need to develop alternative delivery methods into plant cells to avoid or limit such undesirable effects, thereby unlocking the full potential of the CRISPR technology.

The CRISPR precision toolbox, that is expanding and disseminating at an extraordinary speed, will definitely help us to decipher plant immune responses upon pathogen infection. However, while we are now also able to mimick or evolve immune molecular mechanisms that confer genetic resistance to a broad range of pathogens, with the potential to support food security and safety in a sustainable way through the reduction of chemical use, regulatory frameworks constitute the main obstacle to CRISPR application in food crops, especially in Europe.

We expect that a product-based regulatory framework could provide a rational balance between human/environment safety concerns and plant breeding innovation.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend