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Use of CRISPR/Cas9 for Crop Improvement in Maize and Soybean.

ABSTRACT

CRISPR/Cas enables precise improvement of commercially relevant crop species by transgenic and nontransgenic methodologies. We have used CRISPR/Cas with or without DNA repair template in both corn and soybean for a range of applications including enhancing drought tolerance, improving seed oil composition, and endowing herbicide tolerance. Importantly, by pairing CRISPR/Cas technology with recent advances in plant tissue culture, these changes can be introduced directly into commercially relevant genotypes. This powerful combination of technologies enables advanced breeding techniques for introducing natural genetic variations directly into product relevant lines with improved speed and quality compared with traditional breeding methods. Variation generated through such CRISPR/Cas enabled advanced breeding approaches can be indistinguishable from naturally occurring variation and therefore should be readily accessible for commercialization. The precision, reach, and flexibility afforded by CRISPR/Cas promise an important role for genome editing in future crop improvement efforts.