Outcome of German research project published in "Frontiers in Plant Science" (Testbiotech comment)

A new peer-reviewed publication provides an overview of several differences between genome editing (CRISPR/Cas) and conventional plant breeding on the molecular level. It is the first scientific review to specifically explore this issue, and is the outcome of a German research project in horizon scanning of new methods in genetic engineering from the perspective of the protection of health, the environment and nature (“Fachstelle Gentechnik und Umwelt“). The publication is authored by Katharina Kawall and was published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

The publication reviews applications of CRISPR/Cas in plants and shows some differences from conventional mutagenesis used in plant breeding and from spontaneous mutations. In conventional breeding and in natural processes some regions in the genome undergo changes less frequently than others because these regions are especially protected by repair mechanisms in the cell. CRISPR/Cas applications can bypass these naturally occurring processes.

“In the debate on new methods of genetic engineering you often hear that CRISPR/Cas applications should be seen as the same as naturally occurring processes. However, this perception is too simplistic in regard to both natural biological processes and the real potential of genome editing,” says Katharina Kawall, who has herself worked with CRISPR/Cas in the laboratory.

There have been some ongoing and highly dynamic developments in biotechnology in the last few years. The research project “Fachstelle Gentechnik and Umwelt“ aims to provide scientific assessment of these recent developments independently of the interests of the applicants and promote public participation.

Source of comment: Testbiotech

The publication:
New possibilities on the horizon: Genome editing makes the whole genome accessible for changes
Katharina Kawall
Front. Plant Sci., 24 April 2019 |

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