Cibus, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBUS), a leading agricultural technology company that develops and licenses plant traits to seed companies, announced that its paper on Industrializing Gene Editing in Brassica napus was published in the International Journal of Plant Biology. (Link Article: https://www.mdpi.com/2037-0164/14/4/77)
″The ability to scale breeding in a precise and repeatable process is the central breakthrough of our high-speed breeding process, which we refer to as the Trait Machine™ System. Our scale breakthroughs in breeding in Brassica napus (canola or winter oilseed rape) in our San Diego trait production facility is driving the speed and number of edited seed transfers of our pod shatter reduction trait to our major seed company customers,″ stated Andrew Walker, Vice President of Trait Production at Cibus. ″While we focus on our initial three-crop, five-trait model, our continued breakthroughs developing additional single cell regeneration systems in multiple crops is expanding our ability to bring new scaled breeding processes and new trait opportunities to more crops in the future, especially the major oil and cereal crops.″
Peter Beetham, President and COO of Cibus, added, ″Increased throughput of our Trait Machine allows Cibus to deliver multiple elite genetic lines to seed company customers that integrate into their advanced commercial breeding programs. This high-speed approach reduces timelines to develop new traits from as much as 16 years to approximately three to five years, which has been validated by collaboration agreements with partners, such as Bayer.″
In plants, an increasing number of traits and new characteristics are being developed using gene editing. Simple traits represented by a single gene can be managed through backcross breeding, but this is typically not the case for more complex traits which may result from the function of a large number of genes. Here, we demonstrate two case studies of improving oleic oil content and developing pod shatter reduction in Brassica napus by using gene editing tools on an industrial scale. There are four BnaFAD2 genes involved in oleic oil content and eight BnaSHP genes involved in pod shatter tolerance. In order to develop these two traits, we delivered nuclease ribonucleoproteins with Gene Repair Oligonucleotides (GRONs) into protoplasts, with subsequent regeneration into plants on an industrial scale, which encompassed robust tissue culture protocols, efficient gene editing, robotics sampling, and molecular screening, vigorous plant regeneration, growth, and phenotyping. We can produce precise loss-of-function-edited plants with two improved agronomically important complex traits, high oleic oil or pod shatter reduction, in elite canola varieties within 1–3 years, depending on the trait complexity. In the edited plants carrying loss of function of four BnaFAD2 genes, the seed fatty acid oleic acid content reached 89% compared to 61% in the non-edited wildtype control. The plants carrying eight edited BnaSHP genes achieved 51% pod shatter reduction in multiple year field testing in the target environment compared to the wildtype control.