Targeted plant improvement through genome editing: from laboratory to field

Miladinovic, Dragana; Antunes, Dulce; Yildirim, Kubilay; Bakhsh, Allah; Cvejic, Sandra; Kondic-Špika, Ankica; Marjanovic Jeromela, Ana; et al. (2021).


The main challenges of today’s agriculture are maintaining and raising productivity, reducing its negative impact on the environment, and adapting to climate change. Efficient plant breeding can generate elite varieties that will rapidly replace obsolete ones and address ongoing challenges in an efficient and sustainable manner. Site-specific genome editing in plants is a rapidly evolving field with tangible results. The technology is equipped with a powerful toolbox of molecular scissors to cut DNA at a pre-determined site with different efficiencies for designing an approach that best suits the objectives of each plant breeding strategy. Genome editing (GE) not only revolutionizes plant biology, but provides the means to solve challenges related to plant architecture, food security, nutrient content, adaptation to the environment, resistance to diseases and production of plant-based materials. This review illustrates how far we have come since the emergence of these technologies and how these technologies could be applied to obtain superior, safe and sustainable crop production. Synergies of genome editing with other technological platforms that are gaining significance in plants lead to an exciting new, post-genomic era for plant research and production. In previous months, we have seen what global changes might arise from one new virus, reminding us of what drastic effects such events could have on food production. This demonstrates how important science, technology, and tools are to meet the current time and the future. Plant GE can make a real difference to future sustainable food production to the benefit of both mankind and our environment.

Keywords: Genome editing; Breeding; Plants; Improvement; Traits; Disease resistance.

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