In plants, microrchidia (MORC) proteins were first discovered in Arabidopsis
thaliana mutants compromised for resistance to a viral pathogen. Further
studies revealed their involvement in gene silencing and genome
stabilization. However, little is known about their role in cereals.
The team of Neelendra Kumar from Justus$B!>(BLiebig University Giessen in
Germany used a Streptococcus pyogenes Cas8 (SpCas9) approach to study
HvMORC1, a MORC protein in barley (Hordeum vulgare). The team detected very
high mutation frequencies in HvMORC1 in the T0 generation (77%) and T1 (70%
$B!>(B100%). The resulting SpCas9$B!>(Bedited hvmorc1-knockout barley expressed
increased disease resistance to fungal pathogens.