Seed World

Better Strawberries Thanks to CRISPR Breakthrough

Netherlands-based company announces the inaugural regeneration of strawberries from gene-edited individual cells.

Hudson River Biotechnology (HRB), headquartered in Wageningen, The Netherlands, announced the first successful regeneration of strawberry plants from gene-edited single cells, utilizing its unique CRISPR technology known as TiGER.

The berry industry is currently facing challenges, transitioning from prioritizing yield to focusing on higher-quality production with reduced resources and minimal environmental footprint. Given the strawberry’s genetic complexity, marked by its octoploid structure (eight sets of chromosomes, in contrast to humans’ diploid), traditional breeding methods for enhancing fruit quality and resistance to disease have been slow and cumbersome. HRB’s release said gene editing presents an innovative avenue for rapidly incorporating desired traits into strawberries. The technology overcomes the previous absence of an effective gene editing method that avoids foreign DNA or results in plants with unevenly edited cells (chimeras).

HRB said its TiGER workflow represents a significant leap forward, enabling the creation of new plant varieties from a single, gene-edited cell through automated screening across thousands of regeneration conditions to find the optimal setup for each crop and variety. They said the approach is scalable and efficient, expediting the introduction of beneficial traits into various crops. The achievement with strawberries, particularly challenging due to their genetic recalcitrance, signifies a critical step forward in enhancing fruit flavor, nutritional value and sustainability, contributing to HRB’s portfolio of more than 12 species and supporting their vision of leveraging CRISPR technology across all crop types.

Ferdinand Los, co-founder and CEO of HRB, highlighted the importance of this advancement.

 “Our success with strawberries marks a pivotal moment in agricultural biotechnology, setting the stage for enhanced breeding and cultivation techniques across berry crops,” he said. “HRB is eager to work alongside industry partners to convert these scientific achievements into tangible benefits for farmers and consumers worldwide.”