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It is a long-standing goal of scientists and breeders to precisely control a gene for studying its function as well as improving crop yield, quality, and tolerance to various environmental stresses. The discovery and modification of CRISPR/Cas system, a nature-occurred gene editing tool, opens an era for studying gene function and precision crop breeding. In this review, we first introduce the brief history of CRISPR/Cas discovery followed the mechanism and application of CRISPR/Cas system on gene function study and crop improvement. Currently, CRISPR/Cas genome editing has been becoming a mature cutting-edge biotechnological tool for crop improvement that already used in many different traits in crops, including pathogen resistance, abiotic tolerance, plant development and morphology and even secondary metabolism and fiber development. Finally, we point out the major issues associating with CRISPR/Cas system and the future research directions.Key Scientific Concepts of Review: CRISPR/Cas9 system is a robust and powerful biotechnological tool for targeting an individual DNA and RNA sequence in the genome. It can be used to target a sequence for gene knockin, knockout and replacement as well as monitoring and regulating gene expression at the genome and epigenome levels by binding a specific sequence. Agrobacterium-mediated method is still the major and efficient method for delivering CRISPR/Cas regents into targeted plant cells. However, other delivery methods, such as virus-mediated method, have been developed and enhanced the application potentials of CRISPR/Cas9-based crop improvement. PAM requirement offers the CRISPR/Cas9-targted genetic loci and also limits the application of CRISPR/Cas9. Discovering new Cas proteins and modifying current Cas enzymes play an important role in CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing. Developing a better CRISPR/Cas9 system, including the delivery system and the methods eliminating off-target effects, and finding key/master genes for controlling crop growth and development is two major directions for CRISPR/Cas9-based crop improvement. © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Cairo University.


Dangquan Zhang, Zhiyong Zhang, Turgay Unver, Baohong Zhang. CRISPR/Cas: A powerful tool for gene function study and crop improvement. Journal of advanced research. 2021 Mar;29:207-221

PMID: 33842017

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