Critical Reviews in Biotechnology
In basic and applied sciences, genome editing has become an indispensable tool, especially the versatile and adaptable CRISPR/Cas9 system. Using CRISPR/Cas9 in plants has enabled modifications of many valuable traits, including environmental stress tolerance, an essential aspect when it comes to ensuring food security under climate change pressure. The CRISPR toolbox enables faster and more precise plant breeding by facilitating: multiplex gene editing, gene pyramiding, and de novo domestication. In this paper, we discuss the most recent advances in CRISPR/Cas9 and alternative CRISPR-based systems, along with the technical challenges that remain to be overcome. A revision of the latest proof-of-concept and functional characterization studies has indeed provided more insight into the quantitative traits affecting crop yield and stress tolerance. Additionally, we focus on the applications of CRISPR/Cas9 technology in regard to extremophile plants, due to their significance on: industrial, ecological and economic levels. These still unexplored genetic resources could provide the means to harden our crops against the threat of climate change, thus ensuring food security over the next century.