lapauCRISPR/Cas9 technology is revolutionizing life sciences, including plant breeding. Due to high efficiency and simple design, CRISPR/Cas9 has brought genome engineering (GE) in reach of small and medium enterprises in this area. Plant breeders can now use gene editing for increasing the genetic diversity in their germplasm or introducing novel traits in their species.

Over the last years, the VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology has pioneered with CRISPR/Cas9-based genome engineering. Successful examples were obtained in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana and Medicago truncatula; fruit crops such as tomato, monocot crops such as maize, and woody perennials such as poplar.

The Crop Genome Engineering Facility (CGEF) aims to act as a bridge between this expertise at the VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology and enterprises looking for know-how and advice in this rapidly moving field. While companies often have species-specific knowledge on plant tissue culture and regeneration, successful creation of gene-edited plants also relies on knowledge of plant genes and genomes, access to the latest CRISPR technology, and plant transformation.

The CGEF can help by:

  • Providing access to world-class bioinformatics and plant genome annotation experts (http://www.psb.ugent.be/applied-bioinformatics-biostatistics)
  • Selecting traits, pathways and genes, and designing  appropriate GE strategies
  • Offering advice on best-practices in GE
  • Providing the latest CRISPR technology developments, implemented for use in plants by a dedicated Plant Genome Editing research group (http://www.psb.ugent.be/plant-genome-editing)
  • Close collaboration with the PSB maize transformation platform (http://www.psb.ugent.be/chromatin-and-growth/287-maize-transformation) used to improve (monocot) plant transformation, which has become the new limiting step in plant genome engineering
  • Acting as an academic partner in R&D projects, next to providing fee-for-service work for both academics and industry

Simultaneous CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-out of two paralogs regulating leaf development in tomato Micro Tom variety. In collaboration with Alain Goossens lab and Jan Van Doorsselaere (VIVES, Roeselare).

A CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-out in B104 shows enhanced sensitivity to stress.  By De Veylder lab.


Simultaneous CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-out of two paralogs controlling flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana. Inheritance of CRISPR-mediated indels with Cas9 null-segregants in T2 already homo-allelic for both loci. In collaboration with Alain Goossens lab.

CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock-out of biosynthesis genes in Medicago truncatula hairy root cultures resulting in absence of specific metabolites. By Alain Goossens lab.

Development of a CRISPR/Cas9 vector system for increasing homologous recombination in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Used to efficiently knock-out ergosterol biosynthesis genes. In collaboration with Alain Goossens lab.