University of Maryland Develops New CRISPR-Cpf1 Gene Editing System for Plants

University of Maryland Develops New CRISPR-Cpf1 Gene Editing System for Plants

Yiping Qi, an assistant professor from the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and an international research team have developed an upgrade to gene editing technology in plants. This new model is based on the CRISPR-Cpf1, a newer addition to the CRISPR system, which was named as “Breakthrough of the Year” by Science in 2015. Qi’s technology has the potential to establish highly efficient editing systems in crop plants, which will help to ensure the security of our global food system and feed a rapidly growing world population.

While prior groups have utilized CRISPR-Cpf1 on plants, gene editing frequencies have generally been below 50%. Qi’s research utilizes self-cleaving ribozymes - a ribonucleic (RNA) molecule capable of acting as an enzyme - to facilitate precise processing of CRISPR RNA, the key RNA component that mediates DNA targeting. These results established a new system that delivered 100% mutations of target genes in rice crop. This represents a new and cost-effective breeding tool that will help generate elite plant varieties in agriculture within a few generations.  In the same study, the CRISPR-Cpf1 system was also successfully repurposed as a strong gene silencing tool as demonstrated in the plant Arabidopsis, a model organism for studying plant biology.

“This is a very exciting time in CRISPR research, and I’m pleased to unveil this new development in gene editing technology for plants. As scientists and as representatives of our state’s land-grant, we are committed to improving the lives and livelihoods of our residents, and this offers a new approach to growing resilient crops,” said Dr. Qi. “The College of Agriculture is very focused on protecting our nation’s agriculture enterprise and ensuring a sufficient global food supply and I’m excited to help contribute to this important mission throughout advancement in technology.”

In collaboration with researchers from East Carolina University, University of Minnesota and two other Universities in China, Qi and his team recently produced a paper titled “A CRISPR-Cpf1 system for efficient genome editing and transcriptional repression in plants,” which was recently published (link is external) in the research journal Nature Plants. Qi is interested in applying this CRISPR-Cpf1 system in other plant species, including major crops such as maize and wheat. He’s also hoping to encourage other researchers to test his strategy in different organisms for potential improvement of editing efficiency with Cpf1.

March 3, 2017


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

UMD Division of Research Announces Summer Tier 1 Awards

Gamma-ray Burst Captured in Unprecedented Detail

New UMD Research Tracks Global IT’s Shift from Cost-Cutting to Revenue-Boosting

UMD Engineers Invent the First Bio-Compatible, Ion Current Battery

Flying Dog Brewery and University of Maryland Partner on Hops Production Initiative

UMD’s “It Takes Just One” Student Team Wins National Competition to Curb Violent Extremism Online

Call for Proposals: UMD-TEC Seed Grant Program

UMD Named a 2017 Best College by MONEY Magazine

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar

Additional Resources

UM Newsdesk

Faculty Experts

Connect

social iconstwitterlinkedinrssYouTube
Division of Research
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1541

Email: vpr@umd.edu
© Copyright 2017 University of Maryland

Did You Know

UMD's Discovery District was recently named the nation's top university research park by the Association of University Research Parks.