Editorial: CRISPR-Cas in Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Kumar, S., Rymarquis, L. A., Ezura, H. and Nekrasov, V. 2021. Editorial: CRISPR-Cas in Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges. Frontiers in Plant Science. 12 (article), p. 672329. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2021.672329

AuthorsKumar, S., Rymarquis, L. A., Ezura, H. and Nekrasov, V.

CRISPR-Cas genome editing technology is developing at a rapid pace and new molecular tools, such as CRISPR nucleases, are becoming regularly available. As part of this Research Topic, Bandyopadhyay et al. provide a comprehensive overview of Cas12a, a CRISPR nuclease formerly known as Cpf1. In their review article, the authors cover structural and mechanistic aspects of Cas12a in comparison with Cas9, the most commonly used CRISPR nuclease. They also highlight uses of Cas12a for the purpose of improving agriculturally important traits in various crops. An overview of Cas9 genome editing applications in plants is provided by El-Mounadi et al. who introduce the reader to the mechanism of Cas9 activity, methods of its delivery to plant cells (i.e., transformation techniques), give examples of improving crop traits using CRISPR-Cas9, and touch on biosafety and regulatory aspects associated with genome editing. A number of countries (e.g., the USA, Brazil, Argentina, and Japan) have already exempted genome edited crops, which do not carry transgenic DNA or novel combination of genetic material (i.e., not similarly achievable through conventional breeding), from being regulated similarly to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as genetically engineered (GE) organisms (Schmidt et al., 2020). Although the above-mentioned countries have passed legislation allowing cultivation of genome edited crops without GE regulation, the public dialogue and policy developments on the issue are evolving. In the case of Japan, Tabei et al. analyse Twitter conversation on genome-edited foods and their labelling over the period from May to October 2019. The analysis reveals that 54.5% of relevant tweets were statements opposed to food produced using genome edited crops, while only 7% were statements in favour of it. The remaining 38.5% of tweets were statements deemed neutral. Although the analysis was not necessarily representative of the wider Japanese society due to bias among Twitter users, the study underlines the importance of a continuous public dialogue on the issue of genome edited crops in Japan and the rest of the world.

KeywordsAgriculture; Genome editing; Crop; CRISPR; Cas9; Cas12a; Policy; Regulation
Year of Publication2021
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Journal citation12 (article), p. 672329
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2021.672329
Web address (URL)https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2021.672329/full
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDesigning Future Wheat (DFW) [ISPG]
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print26 Mar 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted02 Mar 2021
PublisherFrontiers Media SA

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