Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Report First Genetic Transformation of Einkorn

February 13, 2019

Scientists from All-Russia Research Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology in Moscow reported the first genetically modified einkorn produced. Domesticated einkorn (Triticum monococcum) is one of the oldest cultivated cereal crops globally, and its genetic characteristics (small genome size, low ploidy, high genetic polymorphism) make it a good model for studying the genomics and proteomics of Triticeae.

Successful genetic modification of einkorn was achieved using a gene gun. Young tissues of spring einkorn were bombarded with a plasmid containing the reporter gene GFP (green fluorescent protein) and the selectable bar gene (bialaphos resistance gene). Gas pressure, microcarrier size and developmental stage of target tissue were adjusted to attain stable transformation.

Results showed that the bombarded einkorn tissues were recalcitrant to regeneration, but certain modifications of the culture medium have been shown to increase the production of transgenic plants. In various experiments, independent transgenic plants were produced at frequencies of up to 0.6%. Molecular analysis, marker gene expression and herbicide treatment demonstrated that gfp/bar genes were stably integrated into the einkorn genome and successfully inherited over several generations. The transgenes, as dominant loci, segregated in both Mendelian and non-Mendelian fashion due to multiple insertions. Fertile homozygous T1-T2 populations of transgenic einkorn that are resistant to herbicides were selected.

The results of the study could be a starting point for the application of transgenesis and genome editing and advance comparative functional genomics in einkorn and other cereals.

Read more from BMC Biotechnology.