25 April 2018

Targeted mutagenesis in wheat microspores using CRISPR/Cas9

Bhowmik, P., Ellison, E., Polley, B., Bollina, V., Kulkarni, M., Ghanbarnia, K., Song, H., Gao, G., Voytas, D. F., Kagale, S. - 2018


CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing is a transformative technology that will facilitate the development of crops to meet future demands. However, application of gene editing is hindered by the long life cycle of many crop species and because desired genotypes generally require multiple generations to achieve. Single-celled microspores are haploid cells that can develop into double haploid plants and have been widely used as a breeding tool to generate homozygous plants within a generation. In this study, we combined the CRISPR/Cas9 system with microspore technology and developed an optimized haploid mutagenesis system to induce genetic modifications in the wheat genome. We investigated a number of factors that may affect the delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 reagents into microspores and found that electroporation of a minimum of 75,000 cells using 10–20 µg DNA and a pulsing voltage of 500 V is optimal for microspore transfection using the Neon transfection system. Using multiple Cas9 and sgRNA constructs, we present evidence for the seamless introduction of targeted modifications in an exogenous DsRed gene and two endogenous wheat genes, including TaLox2 and TaUbiL1. This study demonstrates the value and feasibility of combining microspore technology and CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing for trait discovery and improvement in plants.

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