Site-specific gene integration technologies for crop improvement
Targeted integration of foreign genes into plant genomes is a much sought-after technology for engineering precise integration structures. Homologous recombination-mediated targeted integration into native genomic sites remained somewhat elusive until made possible by zinc finger nuclease-mediated double-stranded breaks. In the meantime, an alternative approach based on the use of site-specific recombination systems has been developed which enables integration into previously engineered genomic sites (site-specific integration). Follow-up studies have validated the efficacy of the site-specific integration technology in generating transgenic events with a predictable range and stability of expression through successive generations, which are critical features of reliable and practically useful transgenic lines. Any DNA delivery methods can be used for site-specific integration; however, best efficiency is mostly obtained with direct DNA delivery methods such as particle bombardment. Although site-specific integration approach provides unique advantages for producing transgenic plants, it is still not a commonly used method. The present article discusses barriers and solutions for making it readily available to both academic research and applicative use.