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Researchers at DuPont Pioneer have used CRISPR to develop a strain of corn that is better resistant to drought, Popular Science reports.

DuPont Pioneer's team, led by Jeffrey Habben, reports in Plant Biotechnology Journal that it used the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing approach to create new variants of ARGOS8, which is a negative regulator of ethylene responses. In a field study, they found that corn with the ARGOS8 variants had a higher yield than wild-type plants under stressed conditions.

The CRISPR approach is especially tricky in plants, Boyce Thompson Institute's Joyce Van Eck tells Pop Sci. "The fact that they've done this, and shown success with it is really amazing. It's groundbreaking," she says.

Pop Sci adds that drought resistant corn would be a boon for farmers who have to grapple with longer and more common dry periods and for consumers as more food is available. But, it notes that DuPont hasn't yet announced whether it will seek to put such drought-resistant CRISPR-modified corn on the market, though the company has said it does want to sell a waxy corn hybrid developed with CRISPR within five years.