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Crop Biotech Update

Orange Poinsettias Developed Using CRISPR-Cas9

June 2, 2021

European scientists were successful in developing the familiar red poinsettias to a variety with orange bract color using CRISPR-Cas9. This provides a new option in ornamental flower breeding and could be of relevance for other cultures like chrysanthemum and dahlias where radiation breeding is currently used to produce new colored varieties.

The scientists from Austria and Germany performed the knockout of flavonoid 3'-hydroxylase (F3'H) using CRISPR-Cas9 in the ‘Christmas Eve' variety of the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). Previous documents have identified F3'H as an enzyme necessary for the formation of cyanidin type anthocyanins which are responsible for the red color of the plant's bracts. By partially deactivating the enzyme, the bract color of the transgenic poinsettia turned from vivid red to vivid reddish-orange and the cyanidin levels were also found to be significantly decreased compared to the wild type. This is the first time that successful targeted mutagenesis with the CRISPR-Cas9 system was done in poinsettias supporting that CRISPR-Cas9 can be an alternative to the process of irradiated mutation for breeding of color variation, which is currently the standard practice in poinsettia breeding.

Read the original article in Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture to learn more.

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