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New Methods Promise to Speed Up Development of New Plant Varieties
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: December 19, 2019 06:01PM

Despite dramatic advances in genome editing with tools such as CRISPR and
TALENs, researchers are still using tissue culture in developing and testing
new crop varieties. It has been in use for decades and is costly, labor
intensive, and requires precise work in a sterile environment. Now, a
research team from the University of Minnesota has developed two new methods
that will make it significantly faster to produce gene-edited plants. They
hope that with these two methods, they could alleviate a long-standing
bottleneck in gene editing.

The new methods will:

* drastically reduce the time needed to edit plant genes from as long
as nine months to as short as a few weeks;
* work in more plant species than was possible using tissue culture,
which is limited to specific species and varieties;
* and allow researchers to produce genetically edited plants without
the need of a sterile lab, making it a viable approach for small labs and
companies to utilize.

Ryan Nasti and Michael Maher developed new methods that leverage important
plant growth regulators responsible for plant development. Nasti's approach
allows small-scale rapid testing - with results in weeks instead of months
or years - of different combinations of growth regulators. Maher used the
same basic principles to make the process more accessible by eliminating the
need for a sterile lab environment. This technique opens up the possibility
that smaller research groups with fewer resources can gene edit plants and
test how well they do. The researchers used tobacco as their model, but have
already shown the methods also work in grape, tomato, and potato plants.


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