Gene editing technology, plant breeding focus of Nov. 16 webinar

Webinar will discuss new gene editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 and their potential impact on plant breeding.

Dr. Jeremy D. Edwards, USDA research plant molecular geneticist, will be featured on the Nov. 16 webinar from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Food and Agribusiness. He’ll discuss “Gene editing technology and new opportunities for plant breeding.”

Edwards is with the USDA Agricultural Research Service at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center located at Stuttgart, Ark.

The webinar, which starts at 3 p.m., Nov. 16, will provide an overview of new gene editing techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 and their potential impact on the future of rice and plant breeding. Gene editing offers greater precision and speed compared to conventional breeding and previous biotechnological approaches, and opens new opportunities for scientific discovery. Current and prospective applications, and technical and consumer acceptance challenges will be discussed.

Register for the webinar at

Edwards’ research involves the use of genomics, bioinformatics, and big data to facilitate gene discovery and to develop technology for accelerated rice breeding. He has a Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics from Cornell University and a B.S. in horticultural science from the University of Florida.

Dr. Anna McClung, plant breeder and research leader at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, said, “CRISPR/Cas9 is a new molecular technique that is being used to modify genes in living systems. It is being evaluated in many organisms and has the potential for dramatically impacting plant breeding. Dr. Edwards’ webinar presentation will give an overview of the technology and how it is being proposed for use in public and private plant breeding programs.”

Dr. Julie Gunderson, assistant professor in the physics department at Hendrix College, said, “CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene-editing tool which can be used to modify targeted sequences of DNA, the fundamental code of living organisms. This technology has many potential applications including revolutionizing the investigation, prevention, and treatment of human diseases and improving crop yields and aiding in the development of new varieties.”

Dr. Bobby Coats is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Division of Agriculture, University of Arkansas System, Cooperative Extension Service. E-mail: [email protected].

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