Transformation and genetic editing of sugar cane

López Gerena, J.; Jaimes Quiñónez, HA | NOV 2023 | ISBN 978-958-8449-30-2


In the last two decades, research aimed at developing biotechnological tools in sugarcane cultivation has increased (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 gene transfer or editing and regeneration of whole plants are available.

This chapter discusses recent advances in sugarcane transformation methods, especially bioballistics and mediated Agrobacterium in the monocotyledonous system of saccharum spp. In addition, it relates findings already applied in sugarcane, such as the 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 from the Universidad del Valle. In 2006 he received Ph.D. in Phytopathology with emphasis in Molecular Biology from Kansas State University, USA. He graduated in Bioinformatics in 2016 and Diploma in Senior Management in 2013. Between 1993 and 2000 he was a research assistant in the Biotechnology Unit of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Since 2006 he is a Biotechnologist in the Biotechnology Area, Variety Program of the Colombian Sugarcane Research Center, Cenicaña. Thirty years of scientific and technical experience, especially in the identification of molecular markers and genes associated with productivity variables, resistance to pests and diseases. Experience at an administrative level in coordination, project management and biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). He has been a tutor for undergraduate and graduate students and principal investigator and co-investigator of projects co-financed by the MinCiencias and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. He currently leads the line of research in Genetic Transformation and Genome Editing applied to the molecular improvement of sugarcane.

Jaimes Quiñónez, HA

Biologist with an emphasis on genetics graduated from the Universidad del Valle in 2005. He carried out his graduate work on the subject of genetic transformation of Cassava at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) between 2003 and 2005, where he later He worked on research projects related to varietal resistance to pests in beans and molecular evaluation of transgenic rice plants until 2008. As of October 2008, he joined the biotechnology laboratory of the Colombian Sugarcane Research Center, Cenicaña as a research assistant in projects related to genetic transformation/editing, genomics and transcriptomics of sugarcane. He is currently involved in marker-assisted selection projects for the implementation of GWAS and Genomic Selection strategies to assist improvement processes in Cenicaña.    

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