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CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mutagenesis of CAROTENOID CLEAVAGE DIOXYGENASE 8 in tomato provides resistance against the parasitic weed Phelipanche aegyptiaca.

  • Author(s): Bari, Vinay Kumar
  • Nassar, Jackline Abu
  • Kheredin, Sally Marzouk
  • Gal-On, Amit
  • Ron, Mily
  • Britt, Anne
  • Steele, Daniel
  • Yoder, John
  • Aly, Radi
  • et al.

Broomrapes (Phelipanche aegyptiaca and Orobanche spp.) are obligate plant parasites that cause extreme damage to crop plants. The parasite seeds have strict requirements for germination, involving preconditioning and exposure to specific chemicals strigolactones [SLs] exuded by the host roots. SLs are plant hormones derived from plant carotenoids via a pathway involving the Carotenoid Cleavage Dioxygenase 8 (CCD8). Having no effective means to control parasitic weeds in most crops, and with CRISPR/Cas9 being an effective gene-editing tool, here we demonstrate that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mutagenesis of the CCD8 gene can be used to develop host resistance to the parasitic weed P. aegyptiaca. Cas9/single guide (sg) RNA constructs were targeted to the second exon of CCD8 in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) plants. Several CCD8Cas9 mutated tomato lines with variable insertions or deletions in CCD8 were obtained with no identified off-targets. Genotype analysis of T1 plants showed that the introduced CCD8 mutations are inherited. Compared to control tomato plants, the CCD8Cas9 mutant had morphological changes that included dwarfing, excessive shoot branching and adventitious root formation. In addition, SL-deficient CCD8Cas9 mutants showed a significant reduction in parasite infestation compared to non-mutated tomato plants. In the CCD8Cas9 mutated lines, orobanchol (SL) content was significantly reduced but total carotenoids level and expression of genes related to carotenoid biosynthesis were increased, as compared to control plants. Taking into account, the impact of plant parasitic weeds on agriculture and difficulty to constitute efficient control methods, the current study offers insights into the development of a new, efficient method that could be combined with various collections of resistant tomato rootstocks.

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