Use of genome editing technologies for genetic improvement of crops of tropical origin

  • Randall Rojas-Vásquez
  • Andrés Gatica-AriasEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Genome Editing and New Plant Breeding Techniques


Population growth and climate change demand the constant development of new crop varieties that can produce higher yields, and better organoleptic and nutritional value under adverse biotic, and abiotic conditions. In this sense, traditional breeding and genetic transformation have been used for decades. Nevertheless, the first approach is time consuming endeavor, and is unable to keep up with increasing food demands. On the other hand, genetic transformation is often limited by consumer acceptance. Recent genome editing technologies, such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein (CRISPR-Cas9) system allows precise, specific, and low cost edition in a targeted genome region. The wide variety of applications for this technology includes increased yields and nutritional value, stress tolerance, and herbicide resistance. Crops of tropical origin have nutritional and economic importance; therefore, this review will analyze the advances and applications of CRISPR in crops of tropical origin to obtain varieties better adapted to current environmental conditions and market requirements.

Key message

Genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR, allows precise and specific modification of genetic information for the improvement of crops of tropical origin, including rice, maize, tomato, coffee, cacao, and citrus, to produce varieties with resistance or tolerance to biotic and abiotic factors.


Gene editing sgRNA Mutations Agrobacterium tumefaciens Particle bombardment 





Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats


CRISPR associated protein 9


DNA double-strand break


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Homology directed repair


Insertion or deletion of base(s)


Non-homologous end joining


Protospacer adjacent motif


Polymerase chain reaction


Ribonucleic acid




Single guide RNA



This work was financed by “Espacio de Estudios Avanzados de la Universidad de Costa Rica” (UCREA Project No. 801-B7-294). The authors would like to thank Prof. Dr. Stefan Schillberg (Fraunhofer IME, Aachen, Germany) for his helpful comments on this review.

Author contributions

R.R.-V. researched and wrote the manuscript; A.G.-A. conceived the manuscript, wrote, and edited the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. All authors read and approved the final review.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Biotechnology, School of BiologyUniversity of Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  2. 2.Research Center in Cellular and Molecular Biology (CIBCM)University of Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  3. 3.Postgraduate Program in Agricultural Sciences And Natural Resources with Emphasis in Biotechnology, Faculty of Agrifood SciencesUniversity of Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica

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