Weather |  Futures |  Market News |  Headline News |  DTN Ag Headlines |  Portfolio |  Crops 
  About Us  
  USDA Reports  
  Cash Bids  
  Contact Us  
- DTN Headline News
Gene Revolution Turns 25 - 3
By Matthew Wilde
Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:55PM CST

Playing the role of fortune-teller, Syngenta's head of global seeds research might foresee an exciting future for crop varieties and traits thanks to big advances in plant breeding.

"Looking into the future, transgenic technology will be accelerated by the new innovation that is happening in biotech areas, such as genome editing," Gusui Wu said. "We believe gene-editing technology will have a big impact in the years to come."

Advancements in gene editing and biotechnology are being driven by multiple seed companies in their efforts to improve agronomic attributes and yield, to name just a few.

In the next few weeks, DTN/Progressive Farmer is exploring the past and future of genetic engineering breakthroughs in agriculture. In this, the third story of our special series called Gene Revolution Turns 25, we look closer at the new tools that can hasten future seed and trait introductions and how they work.


Jonathan Phillips, head of weed and pest-control research in plant biotechnology for Bayer Crop Science, thinks researchers have only scratched the surface of gene editing. He predicts the big change going forward is how new technology and traits are deployed.

Tom Greene agreed. The global leader of trait discovery with Corteva Agriscience said plant transformation and gene editing will continue to evolve.

"I think we will continue to see an evolution of molecular-based technologies that target genome modification in different ways. Improvements in the efficiency of moving large sequences of DNA to enable the improvement of alleles from one background to another will facilitate trait development," he said.

"Researchers will continue to look at efficiencies of different versions of CRISPR technology and base-editing technology to expand the utility of these technology platforms." (See more about CRISPR at…)


At Syngenta, Wu contends HI-Edit technology, which the company recently patented, is the next big thing in plant transformation and trait development. HI-Edit is short for haploid-induction editing. Wu said it could reduce the time to develop commercial hybrid varieties by 70%.

HI-Edit combines genome-editing technology such as CRISPR-Cas9 with the reproductive process of haploid induction (HI) that occurs naturally in hybrid crops such as wheat, corn and barley.

Breeders can modify crops at various stages during the seeds research and development process without the substantial cost and time associated with trait introgression, the traditional method of transferring desirable genes from one crop variety to another. That can take up to seven or more years to fully complete, according to the company.

Using corn as an example, here's how HI-Edit works:

-- Haploid induction allows pollen from one genetically modified plant to carry CRISPR-Cas9 components into another plant's reproductive cells.

-- Gene editing occurs during the fertilization process.

-- The progeny will have the result of the editing but not the editing components. The CRISPR-Cas components will no longer be detectable in the offspring because they are left behind and destroyed in the haploid formation process.

Wu said HI-Edit technology can be used to bring gene-edited traits, such as disease resistance, drought tolerance and other agronomic traits, to corn or other hybrid crops ultimately improving yield gain. And, it can be done in one generation of breeding, he added.

"With HI-Edit, I just need to make one cross of my transformed gene-edited line with an elite inbred variety," Wu continued. "It accelerates the time to market for future traits. HI-Edit is a game changer."

In the future, he said, HI-Edit will likely help transform nonhybrid crops, as well.


Wu indicated HI-Edit could be used to help mitigate challenges farmers face today in crop production. For example, Syngenta researchers are working on herbicides with new modes of action to help farmers battle herbicide-resistant weeds.

"HI-Edit will allow us to put a trait in plants of elite (germplasm) genetic background to allow them to tolerate a new herbicide in rapid fashion," he explained. "We're also developing a new generation of herbicide tolerance and insect-control traits. In the future, we won't be deploying them the same way we are today because of HI-Edit."

Syngenta is working on multiple projects involving HI-Edit, such as maturity modification and plant architecture (plant shape and height, ear height, etc.) Wu can't predict when new products developed with HI-Edit will be ready for market because they're still in the pipeline, and the regulatory procedure process for gene-edited crops is a work in progress.

Regulatory approval for gene-edited crops using HI-Edit may be easier, because the method doesn't involve putting the CRISPR genes into the DNA of the resulting crop. That makes it indistinguishable genetically from the preexisting, naturally occurring variety.

For More Information:



Editor's Note: This is the third of the stories in our special Gene Revolution Turns 25 series. Next in the series: The gene gun helped ignite agriculture's biotechnology revolution. Learn more about how the tool was created and why the brilliant idea now is displayed in Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

If you missed the first two stories in our series, you can see them at:

Gene Revolution Turns 25 - 1:…

Gene Revolution Turns 25 - 2:…

Matthew Wilde can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @progressivwilde

blog iconDTN Blogs & Forums
DTN Market Matters Blog
Editorial Staff
Monday, February 22, 2021 8:57AM CST
Monday, February 22, 2021 8:57AM CST
Friday, February 19, 2021 11:28AM CST
Technically Speaking
Editorial Staff
Monday, February 22, 2021 8:21AM CST
Tuesday, February 16, 2021 9:38AM CST
Monday, February 8, 2021 8:23AM CST
Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin
DTN Contributing Analyst
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 9:07AM CST
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 10:18AM CST
Friday, February 19, 2021 8:28AM CST
DTN Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
Thursday, February 25, 2021 7:01AM CST
Thursday, February 25, 2021 7:01AM CST
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 6:33AM CST
Minding Ag's Business
Katie Behlinger
Farm Business Editor
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 3:51PM CST
Thursday, February 11, 2021 4:33PM CST
Wednesday, February 3, 2021 9:28AM CST
DTN Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson
DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
Thursday, February 25, 2021 10:56AM CST
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 12:59PM CST
Monday, February 22, 2021 9:32AM CST
DTN Production Blog
Pam Smith
Crops Technology Editor
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 10:06AM CST
Friday, February 19, 2021 12:04PM CST
Monday, February 8, 2021 2:16PM CST
Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst
Monday, February 22, 2021 3:23PM CST
Monday, February 22, 2021 3:23PM CST
Monday, February 15, 2021 7:39PM CST
South America Calling
Editorial Staff
Thursday, February 25, 2021 12:58PM CST
Thursday, February 18, 2021 12:20PM CST
Thursday, February 11, 2021 4:51PM CST
An Urban’s Rural View
Urban Lehner
Editor Emeritus
Friday, February 19, 2021 5:10AM CST
Wednesday, February 10, 2021 12:05PM CST
Monday, February 1, 2021 9:47AM CST
Canadian Markets
Cliff Jamieson
Canadian Grains Analyst
Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:49PM CST
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 3:24PM CST
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 2:58PM CST
Editor’s Notebook
Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief
Thursday, December 31, 2020 8:57AM CST
Wednesday, December 2, 2020 12:37PM CST
Friday, September 4, 2020 3:48PM CST
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN