Biotech Updates

Scientists Use CRISPR-Cas9 to Change Morning Glory's Flower Color

September 13, 2017

Scientists from University of Tsukuba, the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), and Yokohama City University in Japan have for the first time altered the flower color of the traditional Japanese garden plant, Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea nil or Pharbitis nil), from violet to white, by disrupting a single gene.

Japanese morning glory, or Asagao, was chosen for the study as it is one of two traditional horticultural model plants in the National BioResource Project in Japan (NBRP). The research team targeted a single gene, dihydroflavonol-4-reductase-B (DFR-B), encoding an anthocyanin biosynthesis enzyme, responsible for the color of the plant's stems, leaves, and flowers.

The CRISPR-Cas9 system was inserted into tissue-cultured embryos of Japanese morning glory plants. The DFR-B enzyme was successfully inactivated, resulting in approximately 75 percent of the transgenic plants with green stems and white flowers. Genetic analyses confirmed that the DNA target sequence had been altered in the transgenic plants, with either DNA insertions or deletions in both copies of the DFR-B gene (so-called bi-allellic mutants). The other related genes, DFR-A and DFR-C, were examined and no mutations were found, confirming the high specificity of the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

For more details, read the University of Tsukuba Research.