Prof Wendy Harwood: “I am Head of the Crop Transformation Group at the John Innes Centre where we work on the genetic modification and genome editing of crop plants. We have developed highly efficient Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and genome editing systems for wheat, barley and Brassica crops. We continue to improve transformation efficiencies, for example by the inclusion of developmental regulator genes. We have produced many hundreds of mutant lines containing single and multiple gene knockouts using CRISPR/Cas9 and have also developed new tools for crop genome editing including methods for gene targeting and novel nuclease variants. “
Since the first report of CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing in barley in 2015, huge improvements in efficiency have been made and the range of possible editing outcomes has expanded. In this seminar I will describe some of our work to develop highly efficient editing in barley that has allowed the knock-out of over 100 target genes. I will describe the development of editing tools for barley, including improved nucleases, as well as strategies for multiplex editing. One remaining bottle neck to the application of editing in the barley variety of choice is genotype dependence of the Agrobacterium-mediated barley transformation method used to deliver editing components. Recent attempts to overcome this bottle neck will be described.