Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Researchers Create New CRISPR Gene-Editing System for Plants

By Mark Prvulovic - Mar 9, 2020 at 5:41PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The implications for the agricultural industry are massive.

Researchers from the University of Maryland have created a new CRISPR gene-editing system that can successfully modify the DNA of plants to a greater extent than was ever possible before.

The new system, referred to as CRISPR-Cas12b, would allow scientists to effectively modify crops for various purposes, such as making them more resistant to diseases or pests. Previous gene-editing systems, such as CRISPR-Cas9 and CRISPR-Cas12a, have received plenty of attention in the scientific community, but aren't as well-suited to modifying plant DNA. 

A scientist looking into a microscope with test tubes and some vegetables in the foreground.

Image source: Getty Images.

"This type of technology helps increase crop yield and sustainably feed a growing population in a changing world. In the end, we are talking about broad impact and public outreach, because we need to bridge the gap between what researchers are doing and how those impacts affect the world," said Yiping Qi, assistant professor of plant science at the University of Maryland and the creator of the CRISPR-Cas12b system.

Further implications

Ever since CRISPR technology first came onto the scene, researchers have considered using it to genetically modify crops. Scientists are already experimenting with CRISPR technology to make bananas that are more resistant to a strain of deadly fungus that is ravaging plantations in Latin America.

However, using CRISPR to treat conditions in humans remains its most compelling application. Many gene-editing biotech companies, among them CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP -3.54%) and Editas Medicine, are already making use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology as they develop treatments for use in humans.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

CRISPR Therapeutics Stock Quote
CRISPR Therapeutics
$60.77 (-3.54%) $-2.23

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/30/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.