May 2023: Mayrose and colleagues: With the help of CRISPR: Discovering the role of redundant genes in plants
Prof. Itay Mayrose, Edmond J. Safra member, and colleagues have developed a novel technology that enables revealing the role of many genes and discovering new traits in plants.
Prof. Itay Mayrose, Edmond J. Safra member (Life Sciences), and colleagues have developed a novel technology that enables revealing the role of many genes and discovering new traits in plants.
Since the agricultural revolution, humans have been breeding plant varieties for agricultural purposes, creating random genetic diversity. In recent years, thanks for gene editing technologies, it became possible to target specific genes and with that, manipulate specific traits. However, until today, it was only possible to identify the traits governed by 20% of the genes. For 80% of the other genes, there was no effective way to find out what their role is because their function has been masked by genetic redundancy – the presence of similar genes with overlapping functions.
In this study the researchers used the innovative technology "CRISPR" for gene editing, and methods from the field of bioinformatics and molecular genetics, to develop a new method for locating genes responsible for specific traits in plants.
The team of researchers was able to isolate and identify dozens of new traits that were previously masked. This development is expected to revolutionize the improvement process of many agricultural crops, as it is applicable to most crops and most agricultural traits.
The study was led by postdoctoral fellow Yangjie Hu, under the supervision of Profs. Eilon Shani and Itay Mayrose, along with researchers from France, Denmark, and Switzerland. Anat Shafir, Edmond J. Safra PhD student fellow (Life Sciences) in the lab of Prof. Mayrose also participated in this study.