PS Seminar Series: Nanotechnology to tinker with a plant gene

Abstract: Can you think of a fast and efficient plant gene editing method to produce crops that do not succumb to a changing climate? Gene editing tools like CRISPR offer the potential to effectively tinker with a plant gene, introducing desirable traits like disease resistance, climate resilience, and improved yield and nutritional content. However, an efficient delivery method for overcoming the rigid plant cell wall barrier and reaching the targeted organelle remains a bottleneck. The exploration of nanotechnology to boost the plant gene editing process by innovating delivery mechanisms is on the rise. Nanoparticles, which are incredibly tiny machineries, thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair, can be engineered to act as delivery vehicles carrying gene-editing tools like CRISPR directly to the plant's DNA. Such kind of integration of nanotechnology with gene editing holds immense potential, but it is still a developing technology. It should also evaluate the safety of plants, human health, and the environment.

Biography: Neelam Gogoi is an Innovation Fellow with the ARC Training Centre for Future Crops. Neelam has a background in material nanochemistry specialising in nanotechnology based gene editing and has years of experience in CRISPR nanoengineering in crop plants gained during postdoctoral research at the University of Sydney. She has developed a polymeric nanoparticle-based technology to deliver CRISPR/Cas9 in wheat to study the genetic potency of deadly rust pathogens. She has also validated nanotechnology-based gene transformation technologies in multiple varieties of wheat, barley, tomato that are known to be extremely difficult to transform through traditional approaches.