According to the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises, at least 155 million people in 55 countries/regions were experiencing food crises in 2020.
Factors Triggering the Food Crisis
Russia and Ukraine account for about 30% of the world’s wheat exports and about 20% of the world’s corn exports. The war between Russia and Ukraine will increase the cost of agricultural production in Russia and reduce the planting area of crops in Ukraine. Low and middle-income countries, including Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, will be particularly hard hit, and the world will experience an “unprecedented food crisis”.
At the same time, COVID-19 has also had a serious impact on global economic development and food security. The pandemic triggered the worst global recession since the Second World War. Drought, floods, storms, and other extreme weather also directly cause grain failure, push up grain prices, and exacerbate the global food crisis.
Biotechnology Paves the Way for Sustainable Development of Agriculture
We cannot prevent the occurrence of natural disasters and wars, but we can solve the food crisis and promote the sustainable development of agriculture by increasing the disaster resistance of crops, increasing the yield of crops and cultivating new varieties.
• Deep Excavation of Genome Resources in Crop Breeding by Sequencing Technology
In the first decade of the 21st century, the field of genomics developed rapidly and the research cost has decreased accordingly. In the second decade, the genomics field turned to using sequencing methods combined with biological information analysis to understand a large amount of genomic information, as well as accurately predicting and adjusting the climate adaptability of crops, so as to achieve global food security.
Figure 1. Release schedule of genome sequences of key crop species
• Synthetic Biology Promotes Directional Evolution of Crops
The efficiency of photosynthesis directly affects the growth trend and yield of crops. Improving photosynthetic efficiency can meet the food needs of the growing global population and improve overall crop productivity. Using the technical means of synthetic biology to study the important metabolic pathways in photosynthesis can stimulate the productivity of crops.
The researchers tested the respiratory performance of three alternative ways of tobacco planting in the field (Fig. 2a). Pathway 1 uses five genes from the glycolic acid oxidation pathway of E. coli; Pathway 2 uses glycolate oxidase and malate synthase in plants and catalase in E. coli; Pathway 3 is plant malate synthase and green algal glycolate dehydrogenase. Pathway 1 increased biomass by nearly 13%. Compared with the wild type, pathway 2 has no benefit. When RNAi was not used, the introduction of pathway 3 increased the biomass by 18%. However, when RNAi was used, the biomass increased by 24%, and the light use efficiency of photosynthesis in the field increased by 17%.
Figure 2. Alternative photorespiration pathways
• CRISPR-Cas Technology is the Core Tool of Crop Breeding
Table 1. Application of CRISPR-Cas in agriculture and plant biotechnology
CRISPR-Cas, as the most popular gene editing technology at present, can carry out accurate genetic operation on species. It is an important tool to promote innovative and sustainable agricultural development.
Figure 2. Alternative photorespiration pathways
Synbio Technologies’s Biotechnology Platforms Help Break the Dilemma of Food Crisis
Synbio Technologies is a global gene technology company, committed to becoming a leader in enabling technologies of synthetic biology. Synbio Technologies’s gene editing platform can design and synthesize CRISPR libraries of rich species (including animals, plants, and microorganisms) without species and cell restrictions. We have completed the sgRNA design of some important cash crops, such as wheat (14567Mb), corn (2183Mb), rice (399Mb), etc. Our experienced synthetic biology team uses the complete Syno® GS synthesis technology platform to synthesize and construct sgRNAs into various types of vectors. Senior data analysts can help you quickly obtain the required genotype, differential expression changes, and gene function information from complex next-generation sequencing data to quickly locate the gene information related to crop yield and resistance. This also effectively shortens the thousands of years of species domestication processes to a few years or even months, ultimately creating a real technology to change life and innovation to lead a better situation in the future.
- 2021 Global Report on Food Crises
- Mahendar Thudi, Ramesh Palakurthi, James C. Schnable, et al. Genomic resources in plant breeding for sustainable agriculture. J Plant Physiol. 2021. 257: 153351.
- Michael D Purugganan and Scott A Jackson. Advancing crop genomics from lab to field.Nat Genet. 2021. 53(5):595-601.
- PAUL F. SOUTH, AMANDA P. CAVANAGH, HELEN W. LIU, and DONALD R. ORT. Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the field. Science. 2019. 363: 6422.
- Haocheng Zhu, Chao Li, and Caixia Gao. Applications of CRISPR-Cas in agriculture and plant biotechnology. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol.2020. 21(11):661-677.