Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Cas9 Used to Analyze Cold Tolerance Related Transcription Factors in Rice

September 20, 2017

Rice (Oryza sativa) seedlings are sensitive to chilling. Hence, improvement of chilling tolerance in rice could increase rice quality and production. The team of Huang Xiao Zhen from Guizhou University in China isolated a transcription factor, TIFY1b, which could be involved in rice cold resistance. To explore the function of TIFY1b and its homologue, TIFY1a, CRISPR-Cas9 was used to edit their genome.

The rice cultivar Nipponbare was transformed using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique. Analysis of the T0 transgenic lines showed mutagenesis frequency ranging from 60% to 87.5%. These results suggest that CRISPR-Cas9 systems can effectively induce site-specific mutations in rice. Protein analysis showed that mutations caused function loss of TIFY1a or TIFY1b genes in T0 transgenic mutants. The mutations were also found to be inherited stably into the next generation.

A series of tify1 mutant lines were successfully obtained which would be used to investigate the role of TIFY1 genes in rice adaptation to chilling temperature. These studies might reveal a pathway that controls cold adaptation in rice and will help in the development of cold-tolerant rice cultivars.

For more on this study, read the article in Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology.