Researchers from Guangxi University and South China Agricultural University successfully developed rice mutants that are high yielding and with enhanced aroma. This was achieved using the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 as reported in Plants.
Increasing grain yield and quality are usually difficult to achieve because the mechanism for altering both traits is antagonistic, however, both improvements are vital for breeders and consumers. Previous research has pinpointed some genes linked to cytochrome P450 family that control rice organ growth, however, their function in regulating grain yield was unclear. Thus, the research team used CRISPR-Cas9 to simultaneously edit three cytochrome P450 homoeologs (Os03g0603100, Os03g0568400, and GL3.2) and OsBADH2. The rice mutants were assessed using RNA-sequencing and proteomic analysis.
Results showed that high mutation efficiency was attained, and the mutations that occurred were mostly deletions with no off-target mutations. Increases grain size and aroma compound were achieved without affecting other agronomic traits.