Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Cas9 Used to Develop Lignin-enriched Rice

February 27, 2019

Improving the lignins in plant's biomass is vital in enhancing the biorefinery process due to lignin's ability to increase biomass heating value and represent a potent source of valuable aromatic chemicals. However, limited information is available for effective molecular breeding techniques to improve lignin production in grass species such as rice, which is a model grass species.  Kyoto University scientists explored using CRISPR-Cas9 to develop lignin-enriched transgenic rice. Their findings are published in The Plant Journal.

The researchers generated transgenic rice with improved lignin content via targeted mutagenesis of the transcriptional repressor OsMYB108 using CRISPR-Cas9 mediated genome editing. The OsMYB108-knockout rice mutants exhibited enhanced expressions of lignin biosynthetic genes and improved lignin deposition in culm cell walls. Further analyses showed that the mutant cell walls had high levels of γ-p-coumaroylated and tricin lignin units, which are vital components of grass lignins. The analyses also showed that the relative abundances of major lignin linkage types were modified in the rice mutants.

Read the research article in The Plant Journal.