Researchers at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center led by Prof. Feng Qu are investigating soybean genetics and using CISPR-Cas9 technology to Genetically engineer herbicide tolerant soybeans.
According to Qu, most of the herbicide tolerance traits in soybeans are based on genes identified from bacteria. However, there are several genes in soybeans that can be modified through precise engineering to enhance herbicide tolerance. When these genes are identified, CRISPR-Cas9 can be used to edit the DNA sequence at a specific location, changing the underlying gene into a herbicide tolerance gene. Since there is no introduced foreign gene, the modified soybean is not regulated as a GMO.
At present, Qu's team have successfully modified the ALS gene and have reproduced plants in the greenhouse to begin seed production. They are currently working on two more genes to be modified to achieve tolerance expression.