Application of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology for the improvement of crops cultivated in the tropical climates: Recent progress, prospects and challenges
This review (PDF), in Frontiers in Plant Science, examines the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in improvement of tropical crops, how it can be applied to improve crops and product quality, and address challenges pertaining to tropical crops. CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to precisely modify genome sequence of any organism to achieve the desired trait. Compared to other genome editing tools, it is faster, cheaper, precise and highly efficient in editing genomes even at the multipex level. Further, it has shown great promise for quickly addressing emerging challenges in agriculture and application is emerging rapidly. CRIPSR/Cas9 is becoming a user-friendly tool to counteract effect of climate change and ensure food security. Many success stories on application of CRISPR/Cas9 in genome editing of tropical crops and crops cultivated in tropical regions have not been reported yet as compared to temperate crops. To have a greater impact on agriculture in tropical areas, further efforts are needed to optimize the CRISPR/Cas9 protocols for making it more user-friendly and freely accessible for research and practical applications. Development of an efficient transformation system for major tropical crops and crops such as Indica rice in tropical climates would facilitate the development of crops resilient to emerging pests and abiotic stresses. International collaboration through open data sharing and practice of open science are needed to rapidly tackle any emerging challenges in agriculture such as recent emergence of wheat blast disease in tropical areas of Asia. CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome edited (deleted or disruption of undesirable genes/sequences) crop plants should be considered as non-GMO for rapid application and acceptance of this technology at the field level. The authors foresee the application of CRISPR/Cas9 technology in various crops revolutionize agriculture in a second green revolution to ensure food and nutritional security of the ever-increasing population of tropical countries.