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Novel plant breeding techniques to advance nitrogen use efficiency in rice: A review
GM Crops & Food  (IF3.074),  Pub Date : 2021-05-25, DOI: 10.1080/21645698.2021.1921545
Sajid Fiaz, Xiukang Wang, Sher Aslam Khan, Sunny Ahmar, Mehmood Ali Noor, Aamir Riaz, Kazim Ali, Farhat Abbas, Freddy Mora-Poblete, Carlos R. Figueroa, Badr Alharthi


Recently, there has been a remarkable increase in rice production owing to genetic improvement and increase in application of synthetic fertilizers. For sustainable agriculture, there is dire need to maintain a balance between profitability and input cost. To meet the steady growing demands of the farming community, researchers are utilizing all available resources to identify nutrient use efficient germplasm, but with very little success. Therefore, it is essential to understand the underlying genetic mechanism controlling nutrients efficiency, with the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) being the most important trait. Information regarding genetic factors controlling nitrogen (N) transporters, assimilators, and remobilizers can help to identify candidate germplasms via high-throughput technologies. Large-scale field trials have provided morphological, physiological, and biochemical trait data for the detection of genomic regions controlling NUE. The functional aspects of these attributes are time-consuming, costly, labor-intensive, and less accurate. Therefore, the application of novel plant breeding techniques (NPBTs) with context to genome engineering has opened new avenues of research for crop improvement programs. Most recently, genome editing technologies (GETs) have undergone enormous development with various versions from Cas9, Cpf1, base, and prime editing. These GETs have been vigorously adapted in plant sciences for novel trait development to insure food quantity and quality. Base editing has been successfully applied to improve NUE in rice, demonstrating the potential of GETs to develop germplasms with improved resource use efficiency. NPBTs continue to face regulatory setbacks in some countries due to genome editing being categorized in the same category as genetically modified (GM) crops. Therefore, it is essential to involve all stakeholders in a detailed discussion on NPBTs and to formulate uniform policies tackling biosafety, social, ethical, and environmental concerns. In the current review, we have discussed the genetic mechanism of NUE and NPBTs for crop improvement programs with proof of concepts, transgenic and GET application for the development of NUE germplasms, and regulatory aspects of genome edited crops with future directions considering NUE.