To improve food security, plant biology research aims to improve crop yield and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress, as well as increasing the nutrient contents of food. Conventional breeding systems have allowed breeders to produce improved varieties of many crops; for example, hybrid grain crops show dramatic improvements in yield. However, many challenges remain and emerging technologies have the potential to address many of these challenges. For example, site-specific nucleases such as TALENs and CRISPR/Cas systems, which enable high-efficiency genome engineering across eukaryotic species, have revolutionized biological research and its applications in crop plants. These nucleases have been used in diverse plant species to generate a wide variety of site-specific genome modifications through strategies that include targeted mutagenesis and editing for various agricultural biotechnology applications. Moreover, CRISPR/Cas genome-wide screens make it possible to discover novel traits, expand the range of traits, and accelerate trait development in target crops that are key for food security. Here, we discuss the development and use of various site-specific nuclease systems for different plant genome-engineering applications. We highlight the existing opportunities to harness these technologies for targeted improvement of traits to enhance crop productivity and resilience to climate change. These cutting-edge genome-editing technologies are thus poised to reshape the future of agriculture and food security.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology