Various GE techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 have been successfully employed
for various crop plants including fruit trees. CRISPR-Cas9 holds great
potential in GE due to their simplicity, competency, and versatility over
other GE techniques. However, no such genetic improvement has been developed
in date palm, an important fruit crop in Oasis agriculture.
The availability of the date palm full genome sequence opened up a new door
for improvement of date palm through GE and genetic manipulation. High
salinity, extreme drought regimes, and blazing heat are major abiotic
stresses affecting date palm. Moreover, biotic stresses are also a major
worry for date palm. Developing a high yielding, resistant and good fruit
quality cultivar is imperative but demands a stringent, comprehensive and
However, several factors should be taken into account to fully apply CRISPR
to date palm breeding. This includes designing the sgRNA to prevent
off-target mutations as well as the CRISPR-Cas9 cassette delivery method
into date palm cells, both of which are highly significant for the program
to be successful. Date palm also has some genetic characteristics that may
affect the applicability of CRISPR-Cas9, such as its outcrossing nature.
This phenomenon brings high allelic heterozygosity, polymorphism, and thus,
genetic instability to date palm.
The future application of CRISPR-Cas9 in date palm will not only address the
basic biological questions but will definitely reduce the concerns of common
people due to its non-GM nature.