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J Cell Physiol. 2019 Jul 10. doi: 10.1002/jcp.29052. [Epub ahead of print]

A critical look on CRISPR-based genome editing in plants.

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Agricultural Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Caroline.


Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-based genome editing, derived from prokaryotic immunity system, is rapidly emerging as an alternative platform for introducing targeted alterations in genomes. The CRISPR-based tools have been deployed for several other applications including gene expression studies, detection of mutation patterns in genomes, epigenetic regulation, chromatin imaging, etc. Unlike the traditional genetic engineering approaches, it is simple, cost-effective, and highly specific in inducing genetic variations. Despite its popularity, the technology has limitations such as off-targets, low mutagenesis efficiency, and its dependency on in-vitro regeneration protocols for the recovery of stable plant lines. Several other issues such as persisted CRISPR activity in subsequent generations, the potential for transferring to its wild type population, the risk of reversion of edited version to its original phenotype particularly in cross-pollinated plant species when released into the environment and the scarcity of validated targets have been overlooked. This article briefly highlights these undermined aspects, which may challenge the wider applications of this platform for improving crop genetics.


CRISPR/Cas; crop improvement; genome editing; risks


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