With the daunting name Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat, or CRISPR-Cas9 for short, scientists at the IBS Center for Genome Engineering in South Korea say they can genetically modify plants without adding DNA. The resulting genome-edited plants look just like the genetic variations that occur from selective breeding techniques plant geneticists and farmers have been using for many generations.

Jin-Soo Kim, director of the IBS center, says the results are “indistinguishable from naturally-occurring genetic variation.”

In scientist-speak, as reported by the Institute for Basic Science and Science Daily, “purified Cas9 protein was mixed with sgRNAs, targeting specific genes from three plant species to form pre-assembled ribonucleoproteins … to transfect several different plants, including tobacco, lettuce, and rice, to achieve targeted mutagenesis in protoplasts.”

They were, the report says, “able to definitively show that Cas9 RNPs can be used to genetically modify plants,” which Jin-So Kim says “paves the way for the widespread use of RNA-guided genome editing in plant biotechnology and agriculture.”

Read the full article at the Delta Farm Press Blog