Gene editing as simple as spraying: CRISPR delivered to plants via misters
CRISPR technology is relatively easy to use in the laboratory setting, but the complexity rises exponentially when it comes to the whole organisms or groups other than animals. Plants are especially difficult to work with, as their cells are enveloped by thick cellulose walls. To get past this barrier, scientists resorted even to so-called gene guns – devices which bombard plant cells with particles coated by genetically active molecules.
A new method extremely simplifies delivery of genetic tools to plants. Team from University of Bristol used carbon nanomaterials – carbon dots with polyethylene glycol diamines – to carry plasmids – circular stretches of DNA, containing CRISPR machinery. Authors described the nanomaterials as natural and non-toxic, not affecting growth or photosynthesis, and the synthesis was assessed as fast and inexpensive.
In experiments, the nanomaterials were delivered by plant misters (two times a day for five days, ~10 cm away, until dripping wet) and the organisms have underwent genetic modifications with 27% efficiency in wheat. Other tested plants included maize, barley, and sorghum.
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