COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — A professor at the University of Maryland in College Park has received new funding from two sources to continue research into CRISPR genome editing technologies, with the goal of enhancing crop production and feeding a growing global population, according to a university statement.

Yiping Qi, associate professor in the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture, received the funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop a pipeline for genome editing in carrots that could lead to more nutritious and hypoallergenic carrot varieties in stores. He also received funding from the Maryland Innovation Initiative to continue his search for novel CRISPR-Cas12 variants. That goal is to find more CRISPR tools that are optimized for crop production.

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Qi is testing delivery methods that use readily available proteins and guiding molecules to deliver the same material most current methods for targeted mutations use, transferring a gene from organisms to another that would then be regulated as genetically modified organisms.

This method is new to carrots and would allow new varieties to make it to market more quickly without the need for GMO regulations, according to the statement.

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With the MII funding, he will continue exploring new patentable CRISPR variants, hoping to find more tools that work efficiently at lower temperatures.

Qi’s team has established a proprietary pipeline for identifying new candidate CRISPR variants, and he will first test these candidates in rice and tomatoes to expand the scope of gene editing in crops.

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CBS Baltimore Staff