Huge innovation or dead end? CRISPR/Cas9 in the bioeconomy

nova Session on "Potential of Gene Editing & CRISPR/Cas9 for the Bio-based Economy", 6 March 2018

Biotechnology has a new favourite child. CRISPR/Cas9, a new method of gene editing, is rapidly gaining in popularity, new applications are popping up in a wide variety of industrial sectors.

The possibilities seem endless. So, what do modern biotechnology and especially gene editing via CRISPR/Cas9 and similar technologies mean for the bio-based economy? What do these new concepts mean in terms of technology, politics and public perception?

The nova-Session “Potential of Gene Editing & CRISPR/Cas9 for the Bio-based Economy”  will discuss a demarcation between the controversial GMO discussion and a more holistic and constructive view on gene editing technologies, will highlight the technological possibilities already existing today and will dare a glimpse into what comes next.
The session will host European top experts with extensive experience in the practical application of gene editing and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies in bacteria, yeasts and plants. Please find the detailed introduction of the experts below.

The number of participants is limited to allow for in-depth discussions with the experts and between participants who are encouraged to introduce their questions to the event. Interested parties can register at

17-11-27-Sessions-Banner-Gene-Editing-CRISPRnova Session on “Potential of Gene Editing & CRISPR/Cas9 for the Bio-based Economy”
6 March 2018, 10:00 – 16:30 h
Conference Center at Airport Cologne/Bonn,  

Robert van Loo, WUR, Wageningen (NL): Different Technologies for Gene Editing and the Latest Discussions on Regulation and Legislation in the EU, USA and Asia

Robert van Loo is project leader of a group working on plant breeding and genetics of new crops, especially new oil crops for industrial uses. The main goal of the group is to improve seed quality traits in the oil crops, for example by changing the fatty acid profile or the seed meal quality for feed use. Current work aims at modifying seed oil and seed meal quality traits using CRISPR/Cas9. Wageningen UR now has produced CRISPR mutants in many crop and model species, like Arabidopsis, tomato, potato and crambe and the first potential mutants in camelina are now being tested. Further, Wageningen UR is working on improving the palette of possibilities with this new type of CRISPR/Cas9 like technologies for use in microbial process technology and animal and plant breeding.

Ümit Pul, BioActives & Performance Biologicals, BRAIN AG (DE): Genome-Editing and Regulation with CRISPR in Bacteria, Yeasts and Human Cells

BRAIN is one of Europe’s leading technology companies in the field of industrial or “white” biotechnology. Since February 2016, BRAIN AG is listed – as the first German company from the field of bioeconomy – in the Prime Standard segment of the Frankfurt stock exchange. From its proprietary BioArchive, the company identifies previously untapped, efficient enzymes, microbial producer organisms and bioactive natural substances in order to put them into industrial use. The resulting innovative product solutions are successfully applied in the chemical industry as well as in the consumer goods, cosmetics, animal feed, and food industries.

John Morrissey, Microbiology Department University College Cork (UCC) (IE): Technological Advances and Potential Applications for Genome Editing Yeasts for Industrial Biotechnology

Dr John Morrissey has more than 25 years of research experience having worked at the EMBL (Germany), UC Berkeley (USA) and the John Innes Centre (Norwich), prior to taking a position at University College Cork (Ireland) in 2000, where he established the Yeast Biotechnology Group. The major focus of the research group is generating knowledge and developing technology to aid the application of yeasts in food and industrial biotechnology. This spans the range from improving fundamental understanding of metabolism, gene regulation and stress tolerance to selecting and engineering strains for specific biotechnological applications. In recent years, the group has been very active in developing genome engineering and synthetic biology tools and strategies for industrial yeast species. Dr Morrissey having led three large EU-funded research consortia on yeast biotechnology – YEASTCELL (2013-2017), YEASTDOC (2017-2021) and CHASSY (2016 – 2020). He is a member of the International Commission on Yeasts, the Microbial Physiology Board of the European Federation of Biotechnology and the Governing Council of the Microbiology Society.

Dr. Yvonne Stahl, Heinrich Heine University (DE): Targeted Genome Editing in Plants: Recent and Future Developments

Yvonne Stahl she worked as a Research Fellow and as Academic Senior Councillor at the Institute for Developmental Genetics, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf (Germany). She habilitated in developmental biology in 2016. Her research focusses on dynamic receptor ligand interactions during root stem cell maintenance controlling root development and architecture in plants. She utilizes interdisciplinary approaches consisting of genetic and fluorescence spectroscopic methods to demonstrate that dynamic interactions and complexes of information molecules are important for root stem cell maintenance.

Dr. Peter Welters, Phytowelt GreenTechnologies GmbH (DE): Applications of Genome Editing in Plant Breeding

Phytowelt is an innovative biotechnology company. The company develops processes, products or plants – for flavors & fragrances, active ingredients, raw materials and plant properties as well as plant ingredients. For these diverse industrial applications, Phytowelt combines molecular biology with plant biotechnology. The benefits of biotechnological production (fermentation, biotransformation, biosynthesis) are cost savings, increased efficiency, resource savings and it is environmentally friendly.

Michael Carus, Achim Raschka and Niels de Beus, nova-Institut GmbH (DE): Genetic Modified Crops, Cultivation Areas and Experiences

nova-Institute has been working in the field of bioeconomy for more than 20 years and has made a name for itself in the field of bio-based chemistry and polymers. Here, market analyses, sustainability assessments, as well as economic and biomass feedstock analyses are being carried out. A new focal point of nova-Institute’s work is the “Revolution of food and biomass production”. The topic of gene editing is viewed by nova primarily from a political and market perspective.


nova-Institut GmbH, press release, 2018-02-19.


BRAIN AG - Biotechnology Research And Information Network AG
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
nova-Institut GmbH
University College Cork (UCC)
Wageningen University


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