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Crop Biotech Update

Rapid Breeding of Parthenocarpic Tomato using CRISPR-Cas9

April 6, 2017

Parthenocarpy in horticultural crop plants is an important trait with agricultural value for various industrial purposes as well as for product quality. The team of Risa Ueta from Tokushima University in Japan recently demonstrated a breeding strategy to generate parthenocarpic tomato (Lycopersicum esculenta) plants using the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

The team designed the CRISPR-Cas9 system to introduce somatic mutations effectively into SlIAA9, a key gene controlling parthenocarpy, leading to high mutation rates of up to 100% in the T0 generation. Analysis of off-target mutations also indicated that the customized sgRNAs induced no unwanted mutations in the host genome. Regenerated mutants exhibited morphological changes in leaf shape and seedless fruit, a characteristic of parthenocarpic tomato. The succeeding T1 generation also showed a phenotype associated with the homozygous mutated genome.

The system developed here could be applied to produce parthenocarpic tomato in a wide variety of cultivars, as well as other major horticultural crops.

For more information, read the article in Nature.