Boosting plant genome editing with a versatile CRISPR-Combo system

Nat Plants. 2022 May;8(5):513-525. doi: 10.1038/s41477-022-01151-9. Epub 2022 May 20.


CRISPR-Cas9, its derived base editors and CRISPR activation systems have greatly aided genome engineering in plants. However, these systems are mostly used separately, leaving their combinational potential largely untapped. Here we develop a versatile CRISPR-Combo platform, based on a single Cas9 protein, for simultaneous genome editing (targeted mutagenesis or base editing) and gene activation in plants. We showcase the powerful applications of CRISPR-Combo for boosting plant genome editing. First, CRISPR-Combo is used to shorten the plant life cycle and reduce the efforts in screening transgene-free genome-edited plants by activation of a florigen gene in Arabidopsis. Next, we demonstrate accelerated regeneration and propagation of genome-edited plants by activation of morphogenic genes in poplar. Furthermore, we apply CRISPR-Combo to achieve rice regeneration without exogenous plant hormones, which is established as a new method to predominately enrich heritable targeted mutations. In conclusion, CRISPR-Combo is a versatile genome engineering tool with promising applications in crop breeding.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis* / genetics
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Gene Editing*
  • Genome, Plant
  • Plant Breeding
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics