Multiplied CRISPR/Cas9 targets
Raphaël MERCIER, Meiosis mechanisms and apomixis (Meiosis), IJPB-INRA
Abdelhafid BENDAHMANE, Flower and Carpel Development (FCD) / Platform of Translational Research (TransRes), IPS2-INRA
Oumaya BOUCHABKE-COUSSA, Biology of the Cell and Regeneration (BCR), IJPB-INRA
Abstract of the project
Genetic redundancy is a strong impediment to basic research and plant breeding. Recent technical breakthroughs offer solutions to overcome this major hurdle. With the MultiCrisp project, plant scientists will develop methods for the simultaneous mutation of multiple genes at once, based on the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology. Their goals are to enable the functional analysis of highly redundant plant gene families and to create valuable agronomical traits in crops. The MultiCrisp project includes three topics.
(1) Dissecting the mechanisms that drive the division cycle in plant cells. The cell cycle includes successive phases triggered by molecular switches turned off or on by proteins called cyclins. Unlike animals, plants have dozens of cyclins that seem to have similar roles, although their individual function remains elusive because of their redundancy. The researchers will create a collection of multiple cyclin mutant lines in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to reveal how each of them specifically controls growth, development and reproduction.
(2) Shaping tomato plants with many fruits. The number of fruits per plant is a major component of yield controlled by the structure of the inflorescence and the fraction of flowers that form a fruit. Key genes affecting these traits have been identified in tomato and will be associated to identify the most interesting combinations improving fruit harvest.
(3) Enhancing recombination to accelerate wheat breeding. The crossover of chromosome fragments during meiosis is the basis of breeding. The frequency of such events can be enhanced genetically. But this strategy is difficult to implement in species with multiple genomes such as the hexaploid bread wheat. Towards that goal, wheat lines that carry mutations in the multiple copies of genes controlling crossovers will be characterized in collaboration with geneticists from the INRA center in Clermont-Ferrand.