CRISPR/Cas9 represents a revolutionary jump in genome editing technology, both in terms of flexibility and accuracy. However, an acute challenge for the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in editing plant genomes is that the system has a low efficiency in producing the desired modifications. Therefore, there is a clear need for a method to improve the efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9 activity in plants. The team of Prof. Asaph Aharoni have discovered a unique genetic element that can be used in plants to improve the efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9 and similar systems in editing said genomes. The technology is a widely applicable method and simple to apply.
- High efficiency performance for plant genome editing
- Compatible with current systems e.g. CRISPR/Cas9 or other genome editing systems
The standard method for expressing CRISPR/Cas9 in planta is the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) promoter. The inherent issue with the CaMV promoter is that plants often silence this promoter limiting the expression of CRISPR/Cas9, causing a low efficiency in genome editing. The Aharoni team has discovered genetic elements that enhance expression of a gene in planta without the subsequent silencing by the plants own machinery. The system was tested by targeting color related genes and showed a high efficiency in the number of first generation plants that were CRISPR edited. The technology improves the efficiency and reduces the amount of time and effort required to determine whether a CRISPR modification has occurred. This innovation also has further applications as any given gene can be used for a strong and stable expression in planta.