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Genome editing might speed up flower breeding

A team at the University of Tsukuba has used the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing method to produce white and other coloured variants of the Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea (Pharbitis) nile). Dihydroflavonol-4-reductase-B (DFR-B), a key enzyme of anthocyanin biosynthesis, was selected as the target. Approximately 75 % of the transgenic plants produced anthocyanin-free white flowers with bi-all mutations in the gene coding for DFR-B, to a lesser extent also pale coloured variants. The transgenic plants do not contain any additional genes, but have lost genetic information. The genome editor obviously worked very precisely and introduced mutations selectively into the DRF-B gene, but not into neighbouring DFR-A and DFR-C genes. The authors (Kenta Watanabe et al., Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 10028 (2017) contemplatively point out that this result was achieved within a year, while 850 years of traditional cultivation were needed to grow a white variety of this flower (Japan introduced this flower in the 8th century from China, and the first pictorial representation of a white morning glory in Japan dates back to the year 1631).

Source: Nikkei Biotech news release, Sept. 17, 2017

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