Power of gene editing to be explored at Perth Update

Author: | Date: 15 Feb 2018

Todd Gaines
Todd Gaines from Colorado State University

Biotechnology and its potential to revolutionise wheat breeding and crop protection will be explored at the State’s upcoming premier grains research forum, the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Grains Research Update, Perth, on February 26 and 27.

Keynote speaker Todd Gaines, from Colorado State University in the United States, will focus on the potential of the gene editing technology CRISPR/Cas 9 to be applied to future wheat breeding programs.

Dr Gaines is an assistant professor in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, specialising in molecular weed science and functional weed genomics.

In his presentation he will review the science behind CRISPR/Cas 9, with an emphasis on the advantages and limitations of the technology in wheat breeding and crop protection, and explore possible trait applications as well as potential regulatory hurdles for gene editing in wheat in Australia.

CRISPR/Cas 9 enables targeted changes to be made to the genome without inserting DNA sequences from other species. It has the potential to improve a wide range of agronomic and quality traits.

Dr Gaines said CRISPR-Cas 9 system had generated a lot of excitement in the scientific community because it was faster, cheaper, more accurate and more efficient than other existing genome editing methods.

“These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome, leading to positive outcomes such as disease resistance in crop plants,” he said.

“This has great potential for developing wheat traits that could benefit Australian growers, such as reduced brown discolouration of grain, herbicide resistance, improved quality as well as the faster transfer of traits across market classes of wheat."

Dr Gaines says at a global level, wheat has not received the same level of biotechnology investment as other crops such as corn and soybeans.

“Due to concerns about possible regulatory and import restrictions in key markets, no traits derived from genetic modification have been commercialised in wheat.

“However, current and future developments in biotechnology offer opportunities for wheat cultivar improvement that may also meet marketplace demands.”

For more information or to register for the GRDC Grains Research Update, Perth, go to the GIWA website, GRDC website or contact convenor the Grain Industry Association of WA (GIWA) on 08 6262 2128 or researchupdates@giwa.org.au

The two-day event will be complemented by one-day GRDC Grains Research Update events to be held in Northampton on February 23, Darkan on February 28 and Corrigin on March 1.


For Interviews
Dr Todd Gaines
Via AHRI Communications Officer Jessica Strauss,
08 6488 3189

Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827

GRDC Project code: GIA00004