July 11, 2019

Breeding and Genetics Symposium III Recap

Breeding and Genetics Symposium III: Genome Editing: Science and Commercialization

By: Anne Zinn

On the afternoon of July 10, 2019, the third Breeding & Genetics symposium occurred at the ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting in Austin, TX. The topic of this symposium was genome editing and the possibilities of commercialization and featured presenters from a variety of scientific fields. To begin, Dr. David Taylor gave an overview of CRISPER-Cas systems, the structure and function of CRISPER-Cas9, and the repurposing of CRISPER-Cas9for genome engineering. Following Taylor, Dr. Michael Thomson from Texas A&M University presented on genome editing in plants and using high-throughput CRISPER-Cas editing for crop improvement. Thomson explained how the Texas A&M AgriLife Crop Genome Editing Lab is working towards optimizing a gene editing pipeline and providing an efficient and cost-effective gene editing service for research and breeding groups giving the example of how the wealth of genomics data from the rice community enables the development of approaches to predict which genes and what target modifications may be most beneficial for crop improvement. Thomson closed by describing how current projects have now expanded to work across multiple crops  with the ultimate goal of developing nutritious, high-yielding, stress-tolerant crops. Next up, Dr. Kristin Whitworth of the University of Missouri presented on the successful creation of pig models that are fully resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome and the alphacoronaviruses, transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) by DNA editing of the cluster of differentiation (CD163) gene and aminopeptidase N (ANPEP) gene via CRISPR-Cas.

To wrap-up the symposium, Clint Nesbit of Biotechnology Innovation Organization presented on the global regulatory landscape for the evaluation of food and agricultural products derived from gene editing and the potential impact on successful commercialization of such products. Then Amy the Plate-Church of the Cetner for Food Integrity discussed how the scientific community can enable the public trust in gene editing. She discussed current research on how consumers view biotechnology and how the scientific community can use this information to effectively engage and provide information the public needs and desires to make informed decisions about gene editing.