GMO-less GMOs

By Meghan Bialt-DeCelie

Cas9 complex.jpg

Image Acquired from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cas9

Figure 3: The Cas9 complex can be used for modifying the genome of edible plants without introducing foreign DNA

 

Although genetically modified organisms with DNA from another species (GMOs) have effectively maintained food supply, recently, there have been concerns about the safety of consuming them.

To avoid the shunned upon and highly regulated label of GMO, researchers from the IBS Center for Genome Engineering in South Korea have developed a technique of genome-editing without the use of foreign DNA. This technique uses RNA guided endonucleases (RGEN), comprised of a customizable guide RNA, to help target a gene in need of cleaving, and a Cas9 protein which cuts the targeted DNA. When plants are exposed to the RGEN complex, the desired gene is cut out of the genome. The research team was also able to show that this mutation could be passed onto future generations.

This modification technique can dodge the GMO dispute since it results in a genome edit that closely mimics natural genetic variation by deletion mutation.

 

Sources:

Genome-edited plants, without DNA. Science Daily (2015).

J.W. Wook et al. DNA-free genome editing in plants with preassembled CRISPR-Cas9 ribonucleoproteins. Nature biotechnology. (2015).

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