Is CRISPR/Cas9-based multi-trait enhancement of wheat forthcoming?

Zechariah Haber, Davinder Sharma, K. S.Vijai Selvaraj, Nir Sade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) technologies have been implemented in recent years in the genome editing of eukaryotes, including plants. The original system of knocking out a single gene by causing a double-strand break (DSB), followed by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or Homology-directed repair (HDR) has undergone many adaptations. These adaptations include employing CRISPR/Cas9 to upregulate gene expression or to cause specific small changes to the DNA sequence of the gene-of-interest. In plants, multiplexing, i.e., inducing multiple changes by CRISPR/Cas9, is extremely relevant due to the redundancy of many plant genes, and the time- and labor-consuming generation of stable transgenic plant lines via crossing. Here we discuss relevant examples of various traits, such as yield, biofortification, gluten content, abiotic stress tolerance, and biotic stress resistance, which have been successfully manipulated using CRISPR/Cas9 in plants. While existing studies have primarily focused on proving the impact of CRISPR/Cas9 on a single trait, there is a growing interest among researchers in creating a multi-stress tolerant wheat cultivar ‘super wheat’, to commercially and sustainably enhance wheat yields under climate change. Due to the complexity of the technical difficulties in generating multi-target CRISPR/Cas9 lines and of the interactions between stress responses, we propose enhancing already commercial local landraces with higher yield traits along with stress tolerances specific to the respective localities, instead of generating a general ‘super wheat’. We hope this will serve as the sustainable solution to commercially enhancing crop yields under both stable and challenging environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112021
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • CRISPR/Cas9
  • Multiplexing
  • Stress tolerance
  • Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
  • Yield


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