CRISPR-associated nucleases: the Dawn of a new age of efficient crop improvement

  • Rishikesh Ghogare
  • Bruce Williamson-Benavides
  • Fabiola Ramírez-Torres
  • Amit DhingraEmail author


The world stands at a new threshold today. As a planet, we face various challenges, and the key one is how to continue to produce enough food, feed, fiber, and fuel to support the burgeoning population. In the past, plant breeding and the ability to genetically engineer crops contributed to increasing food production. However, both approaches rely on random mixing or integration of genes, and the process can be unpredictable and time-consuming. Given the challenge of limited availability of natural resources and changing environmental conditions, the need to rapidly and precisely improve crops has become urgent. The discovery of CRISPR-associated endonucleases offers a precise yet versatile platform for rapid crop improvement. This review summarizes a brief history of the discovery of CRISPR-associated nucleases and their application in genome editing of various plant species. Also provided is an overview of several new endonucleases reported recently, which can be utilized for editing of specific genes in plants through various forms of DNA sequence alteration. Genome editing, with its ever-expanding toolset, increased efficiency, and its potential integration with the emerging synthetic biology approaches hold promise for efficient crop improvement to meet the challenge of supporting the needs of future generations.


Gene editing CRISPR Cas endonucleases Plants Crop improvement 



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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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