DNA-free genome editing: past, present and future
Genome Editing using engineered endonuclease (GEEN) systems rapidly took over the field of plant science and plant breeding. So far, Genome Editing techniques have been applied in more than fifty different plants; including model species like Arabidopsis; main crops like rice, maize or wheat as well as economically less important crops like strawberry, peanut and cucumber. These techniques have been used for basic research as proof-of-concept or to investigate gene functions in most of its applications. However, several market-oriented traits have been addressed including enhanced agronomic characteristics, improved food and feed quality, increased tolerance to abiotic and biotic stress and herbicide tolerance. These technologies are evolving at a tearing pace and especially the field of CRISPR based Genome Editing is advancing incredibly fast. CRISPR-Systems derived from a multitude of bacterial species are being used for targeted Gene Editing and many modifications have already been applied to the existing CRISPR-Systems such as (i) alter their protospacer adjacent motif (ii) increase their specificity (iii) alter their ability to cut DNA and (iv) fuse them with additional proteins. Besides, the classical transformation system using Agrobacteria tumefaciens or Rhizobium rhizogenes, other transformation technologies have become available and additional methods are on its way to the plant sector. Some of them are utilizing solely proteins or protein-RNA complexes for transformation, making it possible to alter the genome without the use of recombinant DNA. Due to this, it is impossible that foreign DNA is being incorporated into the host genome. In this review we will present the recent developments and techniques in the field of DNA-free Genome Editing, its advantages and pitfalls and give a perspective on technologies which might be available in the future for targeted Genome Editing in plants. Furthermore, we will discuss these techniques in the light of existing– and potential future regulations.