New CRISPR / Cas9 Plant Genetics Technology to Improve Agricultural Yields and Resist the Effects of Climate Change
Scientists develop the first CRISPR / Cas9-based gene drive in plants
New technology designed to produce more robust crops to improve agricultural yields and resist the effects of climate change.
In an effort to create resilient crops that are better able to withstand drought and disease, scientists at the University of California, San Diego have developed the first CRISPR-Cas9-based gene drive in plants.
While gene drive technology was developed in insects to help stop the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, researchers in Prof. Yunde Zhao’s lab, as well as colleagues at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, have demonstrated the successful design of a CRISPR-Cas9 -the gene drive that cuts and copies the genetic elements in Arabidopsis plants.
Breaking with traditional inheritance rules that dictate that offspring acquire genetic material equally from each parent (Mendelian genetics), the new research uses CRISPR-Cas9 editing to transmit specific, targeted traits from a single parent. to subsequent generations. Such genetic engineering could be used in agriculture to help plants defend themselves against disease in order to produce more productive crops. The technology could also help fortify plants against the impacts of climate change such as increasing drought conditions in a warming world.
The research, led by postdoctoral researcher Tao Zhang and graduate student Michael Mudgett in Zhao’s lab, is published in the journal Nature Communication.
“This work challenges the genetic constraints of sexual reproduction whereby an offspring inherits 50% of its genetic material from each parent,” said Zhao, a member of the cell and developmental biology section of the Biological Sciences Division. “This work allows for the inheritance of two copies of the desired genes from a single parent. The results can significantly reduce the generations required for plant breeding. “
The study is the latest development by researchers at the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) at UC San Diego, which was built on the basis of a new technology called “active genetics”With the potential to influence people’s heritage in a variety of applications.
Developing superior crops through traditional genetic inheritance can be expensive and time consuming, as genes are passed down over several generations. By using the new active genetics technology based on CRISPR-Cas9, such genetic bias can be obtained much faster, according to the researchers.
“I am delighted that this successful gene generation, now achieved by scientists affiliated with TIGS in plants, extends the generality of this work previously demonstrated at UC San Diego, to be applicable to insects and mammals. Said Suresh Subramani, Global Director of TIGS. “This breakthrough will revolutionize plant and crop breeding and help solve the problem of global food security. “
Reference: “Selective inheritance of target genes from a single parent of sexually reproduced F1 progeny in ArabidopsisBy Tao Zhang, Michael Mudgett, Ratnala Rambabu, Bradley Abramson, Xinhua Dai, Todd P. Michael and Yunde Zhao, June 22, 2021, Nature Communication.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-24195-5
The co-authors of the article are: Tao Zhang, Michael Mudgett, Ratnala Rambabu, Bradley Abramson, Xinhua Dai, Todd Michael and Yunde Zhao.
The research was funded by TIGS-UC San Diego and a training grant from the National Institutes of Health.