Genome Editing in Agriculture

Background

Since the beginning of the existence of the human race, man utilized selection in the crops and livestock to identify types that had better suit his changing needs. Plant and animal breeding has evolved throughout human history. Various breeding methods and technologies range from basic “grow and test” practices, identifying random mutations and crosses to genetically engineered organisms with improved traits.

Genome editing technology was launched in 2012 based on a groundbreaking study that awarded a Nobel Prize to two scientists Prof. Jennifer Doudna from the UC Berkeley and Prof. Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. Since then, this technology has received much attention, mainly because of its application in many areas of life sciences.

In agriculture, genome editing technology has the potential to revolutionizes the way we improved our food. First identified in bacteria, the genome editing mechanism is a promising technology for creating new traits in plants and livestock. Recently, publications have appeared about the contribution of genome editing in the development of agricultural products with new features. Here are a few examples: non-browning champignon mushrooms, rice with improved crop properties, soybeans with a late flowering appearance, melon plants resistant to several viral diseases, citrus varieties immune to bacterial infections and tomato varieties enriched with beneficial nutrients. There is a relatively widespread use of genome editing technology in livestock. In 2022, in Japan, two edited fish varieties were approved for consumption and marketing.

Genome editing identified at first in bacteria showed real potential for creating new traits in plants and livestock. Whether this technology willbecome a cornerstone in improving plants and animals? Beyond the scientific progress, it depends on a long-term risk assessment, public acceptance and regulatory governance.

For more information on genome editing, visit the Davidson Institute of Science Education page

Genome Editing - Videos: Davidson Institute for Science Education, Weizmann Institute of Science.

CRISPR: Genetic editing and beyond.

What you need to know about CRISPR

The method that competes with evolution: the story of Gene Drive.

How do DNA mutations occur.

Genome Editing - Articles: Davidson Institute for Science Education, Weizmann Institute of Science.

Genetic Editing – The Next Generation?
(Click to read the article)

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020: Genetic Editing
(Click to read the article)

The Crisper Wars
(Click to read the article)

Catch the cow by its horns – in genetic engineering
(Click to read the article)