DuPont Pioneer researchers have been working with an advanced plant breeding technology known as CRISPR-Cas. Now the Plant Biotechnology Journal has reported their success in improving a corn plant’s own ability to withstand drought stress.
“Rapid population growth coupled with limited resources and climate change requires innovation to keep pace at a similarly rapid rate,” said Neal Gutterson, vice president, Research & Development, DuPont Pioneer. “DuPont Pioneer scientists are working hard to improve the efficiency with which we develop robust seed products for the benefit of growers and society. CRISPR-Cas is one of the tools we’re using to do just that.”
CRISPR-Cas advanced plant breeding technology develops improved seeds by using the native characteristics available within the target crop. In this most recent published example, Pioneer scientists applied CRISPR-Cas to specifically edit a gene identified for its innate ability to promote drought tolerance. DuPont Pioneer field trials of the resulting elite corn hybrids exhibited an average five-bushel-per-acre increase in grain yield under water-limited stress during flowering, and no decrease in yield under optimal water availability. Additional trials are currently being conducted to determine commercial potential under a variety of environments.
Other Pioneer studies related to CRISPR-Cas advanced plant breeding published within the last 12 months include two seminal reports demonstrating the efficiency and flexibility of the CRISPR-Cas system in crop development, one in corn and one in soybean, which appeared in the same issue of Plant Physiology. Another report, “Robust Seed Systems, Emerging Technologies and Hybrid Crops for Africa,” appeared in Global Food Security.
“Our researchers are making exciting progress, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with others to further the science and expand the adoption of the technology across crops and geographies,” Gutterson said.
Pioneer has been working with CRISPR-Cas advanced breeding platform to create crops with greater environmental resiliency, productivity and sustainability. The company is hoping to first commercialize waxy corn, pending completion of field trials and regulatory reviews, but the tech has applications for all of Pioneer’s seed.