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Trends in Plant Science
Volume 26 (12), 2021, Pages 1258-1269

Mutagenesis and genome editing in crop improvement: perspectives for the global regulatory landscape

Christian Jung1, Bradley Till2

Plant Breeding Institute, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Olshausenstrasse 40, D-24098 Kiel, Germany.


Plant breeding depends on broad genetic variation. New allelic variation can be produced by targeted or random mutagenesis. Seemingly, random mutagenesis is outdated because clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)–Cas technology is much more precise and potentially faster. Unfortunately, genome editing is not accessible to breeders in many countries due to legal constraints. Therefore, random mutagenesis remains a vital method to create new allelic variation. Mutant offspring, however, suffer from a heavy mutation load, and application in polyploid crops is limited because multiple mutations are typically required. Exploiting random mutations became more efficient due to recent technological advancements, such as sequence-based mutant screening and genomic background selection. In this review, random and targeted mutagenesis will be compared, highlighting the legal situation.

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