Genome editing using the CRISPR-Cas9 system has the potential to speed up
the improvement of wheat varieties by elucidating the molecular basis of
agronomic traits and enabling the modification of
controlling these traits. CRISPR-Cas9 is based on a synthetic guide-RNA
(gRNA) that can direct Cas9 nuclease to specific targets in the genome and
create double strand breaks (DSB), which are repaired through error-prone
non-homologous end joining process which may cause insertions and deletions
leading to loss-of-function mutations.
Kansas State University researcher, Qianli Pan, reported an effective wheat
genome editing pipeline. Next-generation sequencing data was used to
estimate genome editing efficiency of several gRNAs applying the wheat
protoplast assay and select the most efficient gRNAs for plant
transformation. Successful application of the pipeline to five wheat
orthologs of the rice yield component genes that have been previously
identified. Gene-edited plants were obtained for all these genes, which were
validated and observed to show trends similar to those in rice.
The findings suggest that transferring discoveries in rice may be used to
enhance wheat traits, thus, an effective way to accelerate breeding.