About this Research Topic
With the world population expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050, the agricultural output needs to be more than doubled by 2050 to meet increased demand, while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources and combating climate change. Improving crop productivity by maximizing the yield to its full biophysical potential without increasing environmental impact is an attractive solution to this global agricultural challenge. Advances made in plant breeding and agronomy have played a pivotal role in meeting growing global food demand and security.
Conventional plant breeding has continuously evolved by adopting and deploying new tools, which has led us to modern molecular breeding, bringing incremental growth in agriculture productivity. Genetic variation is fundamental to all breeding techniques whether it occurs naturally; or induced artificially by chemical or radiation mutagens for mutation breeding. As conventional breeding methods rely on natural variation or random mutagenesis, they involve extensive crossing and downstream phenotypic screening, which has been a major bottleneck in expediting breeding.
CRISPR-Cas-mediated genome editing technologies break this major hurdle, providing plant breeders with a tool to induce genetic variation through genomic double-stranded breaks (DSBs) at a desired genomic location, paving the way for trait improvement via precise genomic modifications. In addition, CRISPR-Cas allows for transcriptional regulation and epigenetic editing with high efficiency and precision. With recent major advancements made in CRISPR-Cas application, plant genome editing is poised to harness the progress made in the understanding of complex biological systems and their design via genome and pathway engineering. When coupled with unprecedented computational capabilities that enable one to connect genotypes to phenotypes, and emerging tools for precise reprogramming of plant genomes and epigenomes, plant genome editing is on the verge of launching an unparalleled evolution in plant biotechnology, leading to the next wave of revolution in agriculture.
Along with enormous opportunities, CRISPR-Cas brings new challenges that need to be addressed before genome editing technology is fully realized as a precision plant breeding tool. Given many plant species and genotypes are recalcitrant to regeneration and/or transformation, CRISPR-Cas reagents delivery systems need to be improved. Despite the increasing maturity of CRISPR-Cas, the technology being new and disruptive has raised concerns about food safety both from consumers and regulators. The concerns though negligible in plants, need to be addressed to ensure public acceptance of CRISPR-Cas and fast adoption of products generated using this technology.
The aim of this Research Topic is to highlight recent advances made in CRISPR-Cas genome editing which includes:
- CRISPR/Cas9 toolbox for plant genome editing
- Novel delivery systems
- Precise reprogramming of genome/epigenome
- De novo domestication of wild species
- Improvement of important agronomic traits via precision breeding
- Creation of novel traits
- Relevance of off-target editing in plants
Keywords: CRISPR-Cas application, CRISPR/Cas9, Genome Editing, Precision Breeding
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