CRISPR-based precision breeding of semi-dwarf high-performance hops
Traditional breeding of agricultural plants is based on repeated self fertilization of large number of parental plants followed by screening larger offspring populations to uncover random natural or induced genetic variants with a desired trait. This approach can take many years and considerable resources to complete. This approach cannot directly be applied to hops breeding as hops have separate female and male individuals, preventing self fertilization. As a consequence, hops breeding is relatively undeveloped. Here we propose to use a new approach that relies on precise modification of specific genes to generate hops plants that are shorter than current varieties and therefore require shorter trellises for growth and are easier to harvest. This approach does not require the presence of foreign genes or induction of random genetic variation and can be completed using a fraction of funds and time of traditional breeding to complete. Shorter hops plants with high yield of hops cones are notably absent from the market despite the obvious use, and may therefore provide a unique variety for sale by the partner organization.