Did You Know How Precise New Genomic Techniques Actually Are?

How precise genomic techniques actually are

Have you ever got lost in a large building? Scientists face the same challenge when navigating though crops’ genomes*. If the EU parliament building was an apple genome, new genomic techniques are so accurate they could find and amend a component smaller than the tip of a pen in someone’s desk**. Today’s modern breeding tools, such as CRISPR-Cas9, are far more precise than classical breeding methods which require years of selective breeding to restore undesired genetic changes.

With crop genomes already sequenced, scientists now have unprecedented access to DNA information. This allows them to map crops’ genetic structures, just like architects mapping floors, rooms and equipment in large buildings. Modern breeding technologies are a great opportunity to accelerate adaptation of crops to climate change, local agronomic needs and further improve disease resistance, and nutritional value.

* A genome is the complete set of DNA sequence containing all instructions required for an organism to function.
** Apple genome, depending on variety, is  650 to 742 million letters (called bases or nucleotides) [1]. CRISPR-Cas9 precision could be at the level of 1 letter in 650 000 000. European Parliament building in Brussels covers a surface of 659 656 m2 [2]. The resolution of CRISPR-Cas9 would correspond to 1 mm2, which is smaller than the tip of ballpoint pen.

[1] A phased, chromosome-scale genome of ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus domestica)| 2022 (
[2] Parliament’s buildings | European Parliament (