Biotech Updates

CRISPR-Mediated Modification of TaEDR1 Homologs Enhances Powdery Mildew Resistance in Wheat

August 16, 2017

Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) suffers significant yield losses due to powdery mildew, a major fungal disease caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt). The enhanced disease resistance1 (EDR1) gene plays a negative role in the defense response against powdery mildew in Arabidopsis thaliana, making EDR1 a target for improving resistance to powdery mildew.

The team of Yunwei Zhang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences cloned the TaEDR1 from hexaploid wheat and found it highly similar to the EDR1 of Arabidopsis. Knockout of TaEDR1 by gene silencing or RNA interference enhanced resistance to powdery mildew, proving that TaEDR1 negatively regulates powdery mildew resistance. The team then used CRISPR-Cas9 to generate Taedr1 mutant wheat plants by simultaneously knocking out the three homoeologs of EDR1. The developed Taedr1 plants were resistant to powdery mildew.

This study exhibits the successful generation of a potentially valuable trait using genome-editing technology in wheat and provides new germplasm for disease resistance breeding.

For more on this study, read the article in The Plant Journal.