Biotech Updates

Application of CRISPR-Cas9 in China's Medicinal Yam

July 4, 2018

Dioscorea zingiberensis, a type of yam in China, is a major pharmaceutical plant that produces diosgenin, a raw material for steroidal hormones. To date, there is no genome editing approach reported for D. zingiberensis. The CRISPR-Cas9 system proved to be an efficient targeted genome modification tool and has been successfully applied in many plants. The team of Shan Feng from Wuhan University in China, aimed to apply the CRISPR-Cas9 system in D. zingiberensis.

The team designed a guide RNA to target the farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase gene (Dzfps), which is a critical gene involved in the synthesis of secondary metabolites. High frequencies of mutants were detected in T0 plants. Among the transformed plants, nine mutants that contained mutations at the predicted site were identified. The transcript levels of Dzfps, was significantly decreased, leading to a decrease in the content of squalene in the isolated mutants compared to wildtype plants.

The study revealed that CRISPR-Cas9 can be an effective approach for genome modification in D. zingiberensis.

For more information, read the article in Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture.