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Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR/Cas9-Induced Mutations in SELF PRUNING 5G Promotes Day-neutrality and Early Yield in Tomato

January 11, 2017

Day-length sensitivity in crops limits their range of cultivation, making modifications in photo period response critical for domestication. The flowering repressor, SELF-PRUNING5G (SP5G), expression is highly induced during long days in wild species, but not in cultivated tomato because of cis-regulatory variation.

Sebastian Soyk from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in USA, together with a team of scientists from various research institutions, used CRISPR/Cas9 to generate mutations in SP5G in tomato in hopes of manipulating photoperiod response. CRISPR/Cas9-engineered mutations in SP5G caused rapid flowering and enhanced the compact determinate growth habit of field tomatoes, resulting in a quick burst of flower production, thus, early yield.

The study found that pre-existing variation in SP5G facilitated the expansion of cultivated tomato beyond its origin, and they provide a compelling demonstration of the power of gene editing to rapidly improve yield traits in crop breeding.

For more on this study, read the full article in Nature Genetics.