CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing techniques and new breeding strategies in cereals – current status, improvements, and perspectives.

Ahmar S, Hensel G, Gruszka D

Published: 5 September 2023 in Biotechnology advances
Keywords: CRISPR/Cas, Cereals, Genome editing, Morphogenic genes, Speed breeding
Pubmed ID: 37666372
DOI: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2023.108248

Cereal crops, including triticeae species (barley, wheat, rye), as well as edible cereals (wheat, corn, rice, oat, rye, sorghum), are significant suppliers for human consumption, livestock feed, and breweries. Over the past half-century, modern varieties of cereal crops with increased yields have contributed to global food security. However, presently cultivated elite crop varieties were developed mainly for optimal environmental conditions. Thus, it has become evident that taking into account the ongoing climate changes, currently a priority should be given to developing new stress-tolerant cereal cultivars. It is necessary to enhance the accuracy of methods and time required to generate new cereal cultivars with the desired features to adapt to climate change and keep up with the world population expansion. The CRISPR/Cas9 system has been developed as a powerful and versatile genome editing tool to achieve desirable traits, such as developing high-yielding, stress-tolerant, and disease-resistant transgene-free lines in major cereals. Despite recent advances, the CRISPR/Cas9 application in cereals faces several challenges, including a significant amount of time required to develop transgene-free lines, laboriousness, and a limited number of genotypes that may be used for the transformation and in vitro regeneration. Additionally, developing elite lines through genome editing has been restricted in many countries, especially Europe and New Zealand, due to a lack of flexibility in GMO regulations. This review provides a comprehensive update to researchers interested in improving cereals using gene-editing technologies, such as CRISPR/Cas9. We will review some critical and recent studies on crop improvements and their contributing factors to superior cereals through gene-editing technologies.