Researchers Edit Plant Genome Using CRISPR/Cas
Researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) have used CRISPR/Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated), a new gene editing tool, to modify the genome of a tree species for the first time.
The researchers were able to reduce the concentrations of two naturally occurring plant polymers, lignin and condensed tannin by mutating specific genes in Populus, the genus that includes poplar, aspen, and cottonwood. The modified Populus plants contained about 20 percent less lignin and 50 percent less condensed tannins than wild trees.
“CRISPR is a relatively new technology, but it could improve our ability to produce novel varieties of food crops, animal feeds and biofuel feedstocks,” said the study’s lead researcher, C.J. Tsai, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and department of genetics.