Conferring Plant Resistance to Geminiviruses using CRISPR/Cas Systems (20130311, Dr. Daniel Voytas)

Technology No. 20130311

CRISPR/Cas Systems Provide Plants with Geminivirus Resistance

CRISPR/Cas systems can be used to create geminivirus resistance in plants. Using this genome editing tool, plants are pre-programmed with a Cas endonuclease and small RNA sequence that essentially give them an immune system that targets both conserved and non-conserved nucleotide sequences within the geminivirus genome. The technology can inhibit the geminivirus life cycle in three ways: 1) a Cas endonuclease creates targeted DNA double-strand breaks in the geminivirus genome, 2) nickase versions of Cas create targeted DNA nicks in both strands of the geminivirus genome, 3) a nuclease-dead version of Cas blocks the virus or host proteins from functioning. Additionally, for each approach, multiple regions on one or more Geminiviruses can be targeted simultaneously. By actually destroying the geminivirus DNA, this technique is expected to be highly effective at preventing geminivirus disease.

Destroys the Geminivirus Genome

Current approaches to generating geminivirus resistant plants include expressing geminivirus coat proteins, replication genes or antisense RNAs, as well as using defective-interfering replicons. However, such efforts have had limited success. This CRISPR/Cas technology improves upon current methods in several aspects; most importantly, it destroys the geminivirus genome in order to prevent disease. The technology can be multiplexed to target multiple regions of either the same virus or multiple viruses, thus enabling longer-lasting resistance. Furthermore, it can be optimized differently (i.e. as an endonuclease, nickase or a physical blockade) in different plant species.


  • CRISPR/Cas systems destroy foreign viral DNA, thereby preventing disease
  • Can be multiplexed to target multiple regions of the virus and enable longer-lasting resistance
  • Versatile, and can be optimized differently in different plant species
  • Nuclease-dead versions of endonucleases physically block the virus or host proteins from functioning
  • Ease of reprogramming permits most researchers with basic molecular biology experience to apply the technology


  • Maize Streak Mastrevirus
  • African Cassava Mosaic Virus
  • Any crop or economically valuable plant susceptible to geminiviruses that is amenable to stable DNA integration, especially African crops

Phase of Development - Proof of Concept

Daniel Voytas, PhD
Professor, Director of the Center for Genome Engineering, College of Biological Sciences
External Link (

Interested in Licensing?
The University relies on industry partners to scale up technologies to large enough production capacity for commercial purposes. The license is available for this technology and would be for the sale, manufacture or use of products claimed by the issued patents. Please contact us to share your business needs and technical interest in this CRISPR/Cas technology and if you are interested in licensing the technology for further research and development.
  • swap_vertical_circlelibrary_booksReferences (0)
  • swap_vertical_circlecloud_downloadDownloads (0)
    Files marked with an asterix (*) can only be downloaded by users that have the appropriate product license. The license must be active and you must be logged into your account.
Questions about this technology?