- Published: 17 November 2015
CRISPR-Cas9 is a technique, invented in collaboration with researchers at Umeå University, allowing scientists to make small edits in the genetic material of an organism, edits that can also occur naturally. Instead of hoping that such edits occur by natural recombination, they can now be deliberately introduced in a targeted and precise manner. CRISPR-Cas9 can thus be used in many ways in plant science and breeding.
Plants that fall within the scope of EU GMO legislation are subject to a very strict regulatory regime (in reality making it impossible to grow them in the field in most EU countries). Plants that fall outside the scope can be grown without restriction. Since “inside or outside of the GMO definition” will decide whether or not plant scientists will be able to use the technique for practical applications, plant scientists and breeders have been waiting for the authorities’ decision concerning CRISPR-Cas9.
Outside the EU, countries such as Argentina have announced that similarly edited plants fall outside their GMO legislation, but no decision has been taken yet inside the EU. A complicating factor is that the technique can be used in several different ways with the consequence that some of the resulting plants may fall outside while others may fall inside the GMO legislation. Now, for the first time, concrete examples have been evaluated by a competent authority, and the Swedish Board of Agriculture announced today their opinion that some Arabidopsis plants that have been modified using CRISPR-Cas9 fall within the scope of the legislation while others do not.
- Published: 15 October 2015
The Franco-Swedish laboratory without walls "UPRA" opens at CRAG, a Spanish research center.
In 2005, the connections between the research projects of the UPSC (Umeå Plant Science Center, Plant Science Center, Umeå, Sweden) and INRA (French National Institute for agricultural research) in the fields of biology and plant genomics led to the creation of a virtual European Open Laboratory called "UPRA" and to the signature of a cooperation agreement between the institutions. In continuation with this action, a new cooperation agreement opens to a new partner, the CRAG (Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics, Barcelona, Spain).
October 7, 2015, on the INRA site Champenoux, the UPSC, two divisions of the INRA ("Biology and Plant Breeding", "Ecology of forests, meadows and water bodies") and the CRAG have signed a new agreement. The UPRA became INUPRAG, contraction of INRA, UPSC and CRAG. These three research institutions have strong complementarities in areas of plant integrative biology and genomics.
- Published: 29 March 2015
Gunnar Öquist, professor emeritus at the Department of Plant Physiology (UmU), will receive the SPPS Award, which is given "to a scientist (...) in recognition of his/her outstanding merited contribution to the science of plant biology in Scandinavia".
Nathaniel Street, PI at the Department of Plant Physiology (UmU), will receive the SPPS Early Career Award together with Ari-Pekka Mähönen, University of Helsinki. This award is granted to "a young, highly talented scientist, who has shown good progress and made significant, independent contributions to Scandinavian plant biology".
The Physiologia Plantarum Award, the prize of the organisation's journal, will go to Torgny Näsholm, because he is considered a scientist, who "has made outstanding contributions to plant science in the areas that are covered by the journal". Torgny Näsholm is PI at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology (SLU).
And Stefan Jansson, PI at the Department of Plant Physiology (UmU), will be awarded with the SPPS Popularization Prize, which is an award of honor "to encourage plant biologists to bring research results to the public".
More information about the prizes (webpage of the Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society, SPPS
Press release of Umeå University (in Swedish)
Information about the scientists research:
Gunnar Öquist's contact information
(Picture by Ingrid Söderbergh; from left Torgny Näsholm, Nathanial Street, Stefan Jansson)