The development of gene targeting and gene editing techniques based on programmable site‐directed nucleases (SDNs) has increased the precision of genome modification and made the outcomes more predictable and controllable. These approaches have achieved rapid advances in plant biotechnology, particularly the development of improved crop varieties. Here, we review the range of alterations which have already been implemented in plant genomes, and summarize the reported efficiencies of precise genome modification. Many crop varieties are being developed using SDN technologies and although their regulatory status in the USA is clear there is still a decision pending in the EU. DNA‐free genome editing strategies are briefly discussed because they also present a unique regulatory challenge. The potential applications of genome editing in plant breeding and crop improvement are highlighted by drawing examples from the recent literature.
Gene targeting and gene editing techniques based on programmable site‐directed nucleases (SDNs) have facilitated the introduction of precise and predictable genome modifications. Through the introduction of one or two double strand breaks (DSBs) with or without concomitant delivery of a repair/donor template, they allow the generation of site‐specific random mutations and predefined mutations, as well as the site‐specific insertion, deletion, inversion or substitution of larger stretches of DNA.