Crop Biotech Update

Experts Develop Gene-edited Barley with Prolonged Grain Dormancy

November 17, 2021
Germination in the non-mutated barley was almost complete, while the gene-edited barley did not germinate at all. This shows that the gene-edited barley had been dormant for longer (images taken 7 days after imbibition). Photo Credit: Hiroshi Hisano from Okayama University

Scientists led by Associate Professor Dr. Hiroshi Hisano from Okayama University, Japan, have developed gene-edited barley that resists pre-harvest sprouting using CRISPR-Cas9.

Farmers are faced with sprouted barley when unexpected rains come before the harvest season. Sprouted barley fetches lower market prices and is a burden to farmers. Pre-harvest sprouting can be avoided by prolonged grain dormancy through genetic manipulation. However, such dormancy interferes with malt production and causes non-uniform germination upon sowing.

Previous studies have identified specific grain and seed dormancy genes in barley, called Qsd1, and Qsd2. Dr. Hisano's team used CRISPR-Cas9 to achieve the ‘perfect' barley. They genetically manipulated samples of ‘Golden Promise' barley using CRISPR-Cas9 to be either single mutants (qsd1, or qsd2), or double mutants (qsd1 and qsd2). Then, they proceeded to perform germination assays on all mutants and non-mutated samples. All the mutants showed delayed germination. Also, all mutants showed abscisic acid build-up, consistent with conditions observed with delayed germination.

For more details, read the article in SciTechDaily.

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