Transformation and genetic editing of sugar cane


In the last two decades, research has increased aimed at developing biotechnological tools in the cultivation of sugar cane (Saccharum spp.) to evaluate factors such as the sucrose content of the cane, the tons of cane obtained per hectare (TCH) and its resistance to biotic and abiotic stress, through tissue culture and genetic engineering. This approach is reflected in the improvement of crop productivity indicators. The global production of sugar and bioethanol, as well as the use of sugar cane as a biofactory, raise the need for sustainable production, which requires exhaustive research into the factors that affect the improvement of the crop to counteract the adversities of climate change, which directly impact crop productivity. These genetic improvements – in any species –, especially for quantitatively inherited traits, will be successful only when efficient methods of transfer or
gene editing and whole plant regeneration.

This chapter discusses recent advances in sugarcane transformation methods, especially bioballistic and Agrobacterium mediated in the monocotyledonous system of Saccharum spp. In addition, it relates findings already applied in sugarcane, such as new genetic editing techniques based on TALEN effector nucleases, as well as the most recent methodology – which predicts greater application in plants – of genetic editing using the CRISPR–Cas9 system. (clustered and regularly interspaced palindromic repeats). Applying these advances in sugarcane requires an efficient transformation method that includes in the medium term a DNA-free genetic editing system, so that the resulting varieties are considered conventional and unmodified cultivars, as provided in Resolution 29299 of August 2018 of the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA).

About the authors

López Gerena, J.

Biologist (Genetics), PhD Plant Pathology KSU. Head of the Biotechnology Unit of CENICAÑA.

Jaimes Quiñónez, HA

Colombia Sugar Cane Research Center, Florida, Valle del Cauca, Colombia.

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