CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing in MicroRNA of Rice

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs with roles in plant development and stress responses. Loss-of-function analysis of miRNA genes has been challenging due to the lack of suitable knockout tools. A team of scientists from various universities, led by Jian-Ping Zhou from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, aim to study miRNA genes, specifically OsMIR528, in rice using CRISPR-Cas9.

Frequencies of mutants T0 lines ranged from 48% to 89% at all target sites. Three independent guide RNAs (gRNAs) all generated biallelic mutations among mutant lines. This demonstrates that CRISPR-Cas9 is an effective tool for knocking out plant miRNAs. However, single-base pair (bp) mutations in mature miRNA regions were found to lead to the generation of functionally redundant miRNAs, while large deletions were found to abolish miRNA function. Analysis found that OsMIR528 is a positive regulator of salt stress.

This work provides guidelines on targeting miRNAs with CRISPR-Cas9 and also brings new insights into miRNA function in rice.

For more information, read the article in Frontiers in Plant Science.

Gates grant seeds Cornell Alliance for Science $10M campaign

The Cornell Alliance for Science is launching a “$10M by 2020” campaign, seeded with a $6.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Funds raised during the campaign will support the Alliance’s global efforts to ensure broad access to agricultural innovation, especially among small-holder farmers in developing nations.

Read more

Selangor sees big future in biotechnology

Invest Selangor CEO explains the importance of biotechnology to the state and what it is doing to grow the sector there.

SHAH ALAM: For Invest Selangor CEO Hasan Azhari Idris, the old saying “Good things come in small packages” holds true for the move to develop the life sciences industry, particularly biotechnology, in the state.

Read more

Integrated approach required to tackle climate change: Expert

Continuous efforts such as genetic improvements, integrated farming approach and use of balanced natural resources were required to tackle the effects of climate change on crop, animal and fish productivity, agriculture scientist C D Mayee said today.

Continuous efforts such as genetic improvements, integrated farming approach and use of balanced natural resources were required to tackle the effects of climate change on crop, animal and fish productivity, agriculture scientist CD Mayee said today. The worst sufferer of climate change shall be crop, animal and fish productivity and one-time adaptation response was not enough to mitigate the problem, Mayee, former Chairman of Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, said.

Delivering his address at the 38th Convocation of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) here, he said continuous efforts like genetic improvements, agronomic manipulations, integrated farming approach, use of balanced natural resources and timely intervention can be helpful.

“We may have to adopt new breeding technologies such as genetic transformation, gene editing, GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) for quicker development of new cultivars that could adapt to changing climate,” he said.

However, this might need public acceptance as the consumer was also dictating the terms of research in today’s social order, Mayee said.

The other issue that needed attention was the suppression of scientific temper by selective onslaught on the certain technology generation, he said.

Agricultural biotechnology had a considerable potential to address many of the future challenges in agriculture, including post-harvest issues and value addition, he said.

Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd (TAFE) Chief Executive Officer Mallika Srinivasan was conferred Doctor of Science (honoris causa) for her contribution to global agriculture, machinery business and academia.

Mallika is the first woman from the country’s tractor industry to be conferred the honour, which was presented by state Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao. Degrees were presented to 988 candidates in person and 356 in absentia at the convocation, attended among others by TNAU Pro-Chancellor and state Agriculture Minister R Doraikannu.

-Published in Financial Express.  See original article link here.

CRISPR-mediated Knockout of SaF/SaM Overcomes the Hybrid Male Sterility in Rice

Hybrids between the indica and japonica subspecies of rice (Oryza sativa) are usually sterile, which hinders the use of heterosis in the inter-subspecific hybrid breeding. The complex locus Sa comprises two adjacently located genes, SaF and SaM, which interact to cause abortion of pollen grains carrying the japonica allele in japonica-indica hybrids. In this study, Yongyao Xie of the South China Agricultural University aims to restore male fertility in indica-japonica hybrids via silencing of SaF or SaM.

RNA interference restored male fertility in indica-japonica hybrids with heterozygous Sa. The team then used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to knockout the SaF and SaM alleles of an indica rice line to create hybrid-compatible lines. The resultant alleles did not affect pollen viability and other agricultural traits, but broke down the reproductive barrier in the hybrids. They also found that some rice lines have natural neutral allele Sa-n, which was compatible with the typical japonica or indica alleles in hybrids.

This study provides basis for the generation of hybrid-compatible lines by knocking out the Sa locus or using the natural Sa-n allele to overcome hybrid male sterility in rice breeding.

For more information, read the article in Journal of Integrative Plant Biology.

-Published in ISAAA Crop Biotech Update.  See original article link here.

Biotech Crop Regulation Based on Sound Science Needed for Myanmar, says Permanent Secretary

During the seminar to launch ISAAA Brief 52 at Yezin Agricultural University, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on August 26, 2017, Myanmar Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI), Dr. Tin Htut, highlighted how biotech cotton introduction in the country benefited resource-poor cotton farmers. Since 2006, Bt cotton was cultivated by an increasing number of farmers, which in 2016 numbered 460,000. Bt cotton areas increased from 500 hectares to 350,000 hectares with US$308 million in benefits in the last 11 years of cultivation. “To continue the enormous benefits, a government regulation based on sound science should be put in place immediately,” he said. A regulation based on sound science is being formulated in the country and parliamentarians in the audience raised their support for the challenge put forward by the Permanent Secretary.

Read more

EFSA okays GM bacteria as feed supplement

French Ajinomoto Eurolysine SAS, part of the world leading producer of amino acids by fermentation, has received a positive safety assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for use of freeze-dried genetically modified E. coli bacteria as a feedstuff supplement.

There are no risks for human and animal health or the environment from this biomass regarding the genetic modification of the strain, the EFSA Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP) concluded. According to the panel, the E.coli strain PT73, which was engineered to overproduce the essential amino acid threonine by Ajinomoto, may be used as a feed material for pigs, ruminants and salmonids.

The heat-inactivated  gram-negative GM bacterial strain does not contain any full-length antibiotic resistance genes or other sequences of concern (EJ, doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2017.4936). However, the panel said that toxicological data indicate effects of PT73 on blood coagulation and liver, which the EFSA considers to be adverse. As a consequence, the panel did not conclude on the safety for the consumer of products derived from animals receiving feed containing PT73. Based on data analyses, the FEEDAP panel recommends a daily supplementation of feed dry matter with 8% for dairy cows, 10% PT73 for fattening of pigs and 13% PT73 for salmonids as safe.

PT73 should be considered as a potential skin and respiratory sensitiser. Moreover, any exposure to dust from the product via the inhalation route should be considered a serious risk. The FEEDAP Panel also considered that substitution of PT73 for other protein-rich feed materials will not adversely affect the environment.

-Published in European Biotechnology.  See original article link here

Social media crucial in agri-innovations

RECOGNIZING the trend of the present day, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications and the Department of Agriculture-Davao conducted last Thursday, August 17, a seminar on Communicating Agri-Innovations thru Social Media at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites in Davao City.

Read more

APEC seeks boost to food security, sustainable agriculture growth

Viet Nam News CẦN THƠ – Việt Nam strongly support promoting co-operation in water management for sustainable agricultural development among APEC members, a senior Vietnamese official told the first APEC Water Resources Authorities Meeting for Food Security that opened in Cần Thơ yesterday. Read more

Biotech crops to be in more local farms

THROUGH a Joint Department Circular (JDC) empowering development of biotech crops in the country, biotech rice, papaya, cotton, and eggplant are expected to be fully implemented in local farms after most of the crops were already through with the field trial stages.

Read more