Transformative Approaches for Sustainable Weed Management: The Power of Gene Drive and CRISPR-Cas9

Kumam, Y.; Trick, H.N.; Vara Prasad, P.V.; Jugulam, M.,  Genes,  14. 2023.

Weeds can negatively impact crop yields and the ecosystem’s health. While many weed management strategies have been developed and deployed, there is a greater need for the development of sustainable methods for employing integrated weed management. Gene drive systems can be used as one of the approaches to suppress the aggressive growth and reproductive behavior of weeds, although their efficacy is yet to be tested. Their popularity in insect pest management has increased, however, with the advent of CRISPR-Cas9 technology, which provides specificity and precision in editing the target gene. This review focuses on the different types of gene drive systems, including the use of CRISPR-Cas9-based systems and their success stories in pest management, while also exploring their possible applications in weed species. Factors that govern the success of a gene drive system in weeds, including the mode of reproduction, the availability of weed genome databases, and well-established transformation protocols are also discussed. Importantly, the risks associated with the release of weed populations with gene drive-bearing alleles into wild populations are also examined, along with the importance of addressing ecological consequences and ethical concerns.

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