FT (Flowering Locus T) is a small protein that helps plants know when to flower. Now it also allows geneticists to create heritable gene edits in the shoot apical meristem. The trick is a guide RNA augmented with an FT sequence that promotes cell-to-cell mobility. The result is a new approach to gain access to the germline.
Call it “multiplexed heritable gene editing using RNA viruses and mobile single guide RNAs.” Daniel Voytas and colleagues at the University of Minnesota did it in tobacco but are hopeful it can work in diverse plant species. “The method reduces the need for tissue culture – a current bottleneck in plant gene editing. Only an initial Cas9 transgenic plant needs to be generated, which can be used repeatedly to create almost unlimited genetic diversity. Furthermore, the method could be used to create precise DNA sequence changes by infecting transgenic plants expressing other gene editing reagents such as base editors”. For the details, please see their Nature Plants paper.