The rapid growth of the world’s population is posing quite a challenge for the food supply. Current projections indicate that the methods of food production used today will not be able to meet the growing demand. That’s why agricultural biotech companies are working on developing new technologies, such as molecular plant breeding, to help increase food production.
In a recent webinar, Ben Mijts, Senior Director of Enzyme Engineering at Inscripta, and Gabino Sanchez, Business Development Director at Hudson River Biotechnology, demonstrate how Inscripta’s MADzyme™ family of CRISPR nucleases help scientists edit plant cells for various applications. Check out highlights from the presentations below, or watch the full webinar here.
Using CRISPR to Develop New Crop Varieties
Hudson River Biotechnology was an early adopter of MAD7, the first of the MADzyme nucleases, for plant editing. The enzyme is used in Hudson’s MAD TiGER workflow, which is used to generate commercialization-ready plants featuring the desired traits. Traits such as pathogen resistance and herbicide tolerance, as well as improved nutritional quality, can be difficult to pinpoint and can require many breeding cycles.
Sanchez explained that Hudson’s customers wanted a faster and more efficient way to generate improved breeds that did not rely on multiple cycles of cross-breeding:
“That's basically a traditional method that, as you can imagine, is the major bottleneck when you are talking about product development,” Sanchez said. Depending on the crop, the process of creating a variant that shows desired characteristics can take five to seven years or more. “Anything that can really change this period and shorten it is a massive change for the industry,” he added.
CRISPR-based tools had the potential to address this challenge. Sanchez described how Hudson used the MAD7 nuclease to develop the MAD TiGER workflow, which involves target identification to locate the gene that expresses the needed trait, guide design to create the edit using ribonucleoproteins, and introduction of the ribonucleoproteins into plant protoplast.
Hudson scientists use next-generation sequencing to confirm that the edit has been made. Results show that the edits are successfully introduced in 40% or more cases. This high editing efficiency even allows to introduce multiple edits at a time, Sanchez said. “No foreign DNA needs to be added,” which makes this method especially attractive for commercialization in the European Union.
In the final step of the process, scientists go from the edited protoplast to the full plant. The Hudson team developed a single-cell regeneration protocol that enables the edited protoplast to divide more quickly than if the cells were grown in general media. Using the MAD TiGER approach, Hudson scientists can generate plant varieties that express desired gene edits in six to 18 months. “Plants with the homozygote edit inside are ready for commercialization in just one round,” Sanchez said, noting that the platform can be used for different crops. “This is an amazing achievement.”
MAD7 nuclease is at the heart of Inscripta's Onyx® Genome Engineering Platform chemistry. For more information on how MAD7 can support your research and licensing inquiries, please contact us.