Nature plants review explores the current state and future of CRISPR technology in crops

phys.org | 6/7/2019 | Staff
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CRISPR is often thought of as "molecular scissors" used for precision breeding to cut DNA so that a certain trait can be removed, replaced, or edited, but Yiping Qi, assistant professor in Plant Science & Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland, is looking far beyond these traditional applications in his latest publication in Nature Plants. In this comprehensive review, Qi and coauthors in his lab explore the current state of CRISPR in crops, and how scientists can use CRISPR to enhance traditional breeding techniques in nontraditional ways, with the goal of ensuring global food and nutritional security and feeding a growing population in the face of climate change, diseases, and pests.

With this new paper, Qi highlights recent achievements in applying CRISPR to crop breeding and ways in which these tools have been combined with other breeding methods to achieve goals that may not have been possible in the past. He aims to give a glimpse of what CRISPR holds for the future, beyond the scope of basic gene editing.

People - CRISPR - Genome - Editing - Fact

"When people think of CRISPR, they think of genome editing, but in fact CRISPR is really a versatile system that allows you to home in on a lot of things to target, recruit, or promote certain aspects already in the DNA," says Qi. "You can regulate activation or suppression of certain genes by using CRISPR not as a cutting tool, but instead as a binding tool to attract activators or repressors to induce traits."

Additionally, Qi discusses the prospect of recruiting proteins that can help to visualize DNA sequences, and the potential for grouping desirable traits together in the genome. "I call this gene shuffling," says Qi. "This is designed to move very important trait genes close to each other to physically and genetically link them so they always stick together in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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