Gene Editing Boosts Plant Domestication

Gene Editing Boosts Plant Domestication

Researchers discovered gene editing could domesticate wild vines and bushes and make them grow for cash crops.

Using genetic editing in wild seed crops, the biologists are developing plants with high yield variety and rich fruit. Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York edited two genes in ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) to produce bigger fruit that could be used as a cash crop. The findings were published in the journal Nature Plants on October 01, 2018.

Zachary Lippman, a plant biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and co-author of the study, said, “Those edits mimic changes that occurred in tomato plants during domestication, bringing the sweet tomato relative a step closer toward becoming a major berry crop.”

The researchers searched for those genes that could be easily domesticated in ground berries. They identified gene SELF-PRUNING 5G and created a mutation with the gene editor CRISPR/Cas9 that affected the plants to halt its shoots and leaves growth, while boosting its flowers and fruit produce. The result was that the altered plants produced 50 percent more yield than the regular plants. The researchers then altered another gene, CLV1, which caused the fruit to grow 24 percent heavier and bigger fruits.

The method of gene editing takes less time for domestication as compared to making mutants of the same gene. Other researchers are employing the technique of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editor to alter tomato seeds for growing different varieties of the plants. However, CRISPR could be used only with precise knowledge about the relatives of the crop.