A method for the production and expedient screening of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated non-transgenic mutant plants
A group led by Dr. Yi Li of University of Connecticut, USA has developed a technique to reliably create desirable mutations in crop plants without introducing any foreign DNA, thus generating non-transgenic mutant plants. Their technique will be particularly important for application of genome editing technologies in perennial crop plants. Genome editing technologies have been used to introduce desired mutations into plants but the approach normally incorporates foreign genes such as Cas9 into the plant’s genome. To avoid this, Dr. Li’s team has used Agrobacterium to transiently express the CRISPR/Cas9 components, a bacterium commonly used to genetically engineer plants. With their method, CRISPR/Cas9 from the bacteria edit the plant genome without introducing any foreign DNA, and then a two-step screening process is used to identify non-transgenic mutant plants. This new method provides a reliable and efficient alternative for producing non-transgenic genetically engineered crops.