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Iowa Soybean Research Center

in collaboration with the Iowa Soybean Association

Virus-mediated gene editing in soybean

By Steven Whitham, professor of plant pathology and microbiology, ISU

Progress Report

We are interested in expanding on our previous experience of developing viruses as vectors to silence and express genes in soybean to now deliver gene editing reagents. CRISPR/Cas9-based technologies are being used to modify crop plant genomes, but the application of CRISPR/Cas9 still requires the step of plant transformation to introduce the CRISPR guide RNAs and the Cas9 protein. If these gene editing reagents could be introduced into plants using recombinant plant viruses, the labor-intensive transformation process could be circumvented, and also, would not require integration of transgenes into the soybean genome. A project on this topic would involve testing viral vectors for ability to deliver guide RNAs and site-specific nucleases (Cas9), and approaches for enabling these reagents to be expressed in appropriate cell types that give rise to heritable gene edits.

Selected for funding October 2019