AgriLife Scientists Use Gene Knock in Approach for Broad Disease Resistance in Food Crops
A new gene editing technique has the potential to confer broad-spectrum
disease resistance to specific staple crops without affecting other physical
traits, according to a scientist from Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Dr. Junqi Song, a plant pathologist in AgriLife together with his team of
researchers, explores how a "knock-in" gene editing approach might achieve
better disease resistance in many crop plants. Instead of switching genes
off (knocking out), they used CRISPR-Cas9 system to introduce, or knock in a
specific group of genetic regulators that allow disease resistance without
affecting the plant.
"By comparison, the knock-in approach is a much more complicated process
than knockout," Dr. Song stressed. The knock in will form an introduced
system that helps the plant's existing disease resistance genes to be more
efficient in countering the attacking pathogens. Dr. Song's team currently
focuses on addressing late blight disease in tomato and potato but may have
implications for other important food crops such as wheat, rice, cotton,
strawberry, carrot, and citrus.