Scientists leverage multiplex genome editing to create disease-resistant wheat

By: Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

GAO Caixia’s team from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology and QIU Jinlong’s team from the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a new wheat mutant, Tamlo-R32, which exhibits robust resistance to powdery mildew disease and does not display any growth or yield defects.

Wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a major staple crop around the world, feeding more than one-third of the global population. Powdery mildew disease is one of the major diseases affecting wheat yields worldwide.

The two teams had previously in 2014 developed a wheat variety resistant to powdery mildew disease through genetically perturbing the wheat’s Mildew resistance locus o (MLO), a wheat susceptibility gene. Although this variant displayed robust disease resistance, it grew poorly compared to wild-type wheat.

To expand the utility of their research results into crop disease resistance breeding, the researchers used traditional breeding methods to cross the Tamlo-R32 mutant with elite wheat cultivars to successfully introduce the superior disease resistance traits into the elite cultivars.

This work highlights the potential for stacking genetic changes in order to eliminate any growth defects caused by recessive alleles.


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