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July 4th, 2018 / AgriLife Today

A novel gene editing approach could hold the key to broad-spectrum disease resistance in certain staple food crops without causing physical detriment to the plants, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Dr. Junqi Song, AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Dallas, explores how a “knock-in” gene editing approach might achieve better disease resistance in a wide range of crop plants.

His team places special focus on addressing late blight disease in tomato and potato. The Texas grown crops are part of a nearly $6 billion national production value, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

“Most successes with broad-spectrum disease resistance so far have resulted from knockout gene editing, where certain genes are switched off to cause desired behaviors in a subject plant,” Song said. “But successes from knockout editing come at a cost to many other aspects of the plant’s physical health and other characteristics.” Read more