Towards CRISPR/Cas crops - bringing together genomics and genome editing

Armin Scheben, Felix Wolter, Jacqueline Batley, Holger Puchta, David Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

199 Citations (Scopus)
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With the rapid increase in the global population and the impact of climate change on agriculture, there is a need for crops with higher yields and greater tolerance to abiotic stress. However, traditional crop improvement via genetic recombination or random mutagenesis is a laborious process and cannot keep pace with increasing crop demand. Genome editing technologies such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein (CRISPR/Cas) allow targeted modification of almost any crop genome sequence to generate novel variation and accelerate breeding efforts. We expect a gradual shift in crop improvement away from traditional breeding towards cycles of targeted genome editing. Crop improvement using genome editing is not constrained by limited existing variation or the requirement to select alleles over multiple breeding generations. However, current applications of crop genome editing are limited by the lack of complete reference genomes, the sparse knowledge of potential modification targets, and the unclear legal status of edited crops. We argue that overcoming technical and social barriers to the application of genome editing will allow this technology to produce a new generation of high-yielding, climate ready crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-698
Number of pages17
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


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