Background: Plant transformation is an invaluable tool for basic plant research, as well as a useful technique for the direct improvement of commercial crops. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is the fourth most abundant cereal crop in the world. It also provides a useful model for the study of wheat, which has a larger and more complex genome. Most existing barley transformation methodologies are either complex or have low (<10%) transformation efficiencies.
Wild relatives provide an important source of useful traits in wheat breeding. Wheat and wild relative hybrids have been widely used in breeding programs to introduce such traits into wheat. However, successful introgression is limited by the low frequency of homoeologous crossover (CO) between wheat and wild relative chromosomes. Hybrids between wheat carrying a 70 Mb deletion on chromosome 5B (ph1b) and wild relatives, have been exploited to increase the level of homoeologous CO, allowing chromosome exchange between their chromosomes. In ph1b-rye hybrids, CO number increases from a mean of 1 CO to 7 COs per cell. CO number can be further increased up to a mean of 12 COs per cell in these ph1b hybrids by treating the plants with Hoagland solution. More recently, it was shown that the major meiotic crossover gene ZIP4 on chromosome 5B (TaZIP4-B2) within the 70 Mb deletion, was responsible for the restriction of homoeologous COs in wheat-wild relative hybrids, confirming the ph1b phenotype as a complete Tazip4-B2 deletion mutant (Tazip4-B2 ph1b). In this study, we have identified the particular Hoagland solution constituent responsible for the increased chiasma frequency in Tazip4-B2 ph1b mutant-rye hybrids and extended the analysis to Tazip4-B2 TILLING and CRISPR mutant-Ae variabilis hybrids. Chiasma frequency at meiotic metaphase I, in the absence of each Hoagland solution macronutrient (NH4 H2PO4, KNO3, Ca (NO3)2·4H2O or Mg SO4·7H2O) was analyzed. A significant decrease in homoeologous CO frequency was observed when the Mg2+ ion was absent. A significant increase of homoeologous CO frequency was observed in all analyzed hybrids, when plants were irrigated with a 1 mM Mg2+ solution. These observations suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in improving the success of genetic material introgression from wild relatives into wheat.
BackgroundDespite wheat being a worldwide staple, it is still considered the most difficult to transform out of the main cereal crops. Therefore, for the wheat research community, a freely available and effective wheat transformation system is still greatly needed.ResultsWe have developed and optimised a reproducible Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system for the spring wheat cv ‘Fielder’ that yields transformation efficiencies of up to 25%. We report on some of the important factors that influence transformation efficiencies. In particular, these include donor plant health, stage of the donor material, pre-treatment by centrifugation, vector type and selection cassette. Transgene copy number data for independent plants regenerated from the same original immature embryo suggests that multiple transgenic events arise from single immature embryos, therefore, actual efficiencies might be even higher than those reported.ConclusionWe reported here a high-throughput, highly efficient and repeatable transformation system for wheat and this system has been used successfully to introduce genes of interest, for RNAi, over-expression and for CRISPR–Cas9 based genome editing.
The enhancement of winter hardiness is one of the most important tasks facing breeders of winter cereals. For this reason, the examination of those regulatory genes involved in the cold acclimation processes is of central importance. The aim of the present work was the functional analysis of two wheat CBF transcription factors, namely TaCBF14 and TaCBF15, shown by previous experiments to play a role in the development of frost tolerance. These genes were isolated from winter wheat and then transformed into spring barley, after which the effect of the transgenes on low temperature stress tolerance was examined. Two different types of frost tests were applied; plants were hardened at low temperature before freezing, or plants were subjected to frost without a hardening period. The analysis showed that TaCBF14 and TaCBF15 transgenes improve the frost tolerance to such an extent that the transgenic lines were able to survive freezing temperatures several degrees lower than that which proved lethal for the wild-type spring barley. After freezing, lower ion leakage was measured in transgenic leaves, showing that these plants were less damaged by the frost. Additionally, a higher Fv/Fm parameter was determined, indicating that photosystem II worked more efficiently in the transgenics. Gene expression studies showed that HvCOR14b, HvDHN5, and HvDHN8 genes were up-regulated by TaCBF14 and TaCBF15. Beyond that, transgenic lines exhibited moderate retarded development, slower growth, and minor late flowering compared with the wild type, with enhanced transcript level of the gibberellin catabolic HvGA2ox5 gene.
The importance of a-glucosidase in the endosperm starch metabolism of barley (Hordeum vulgare) seedlings is poorly understood. The enzyme converts maltose to glucose (Glc), but in vitro studies indicate that it can also attack starch granules. To discover its role in vivo, we took complementary chemical-genetic and reverse-genetic approaches. We identified iminosugar inhibitors of a recombinant form of an a-glucosidase previously discovered in barley endosperm (ALPHA-GLUCOSIDASE97 [HvAGL97]), and applied four of them to germinating grains. All four decreased the Glc-to-maltose ratio in the endosperm 10 d after imbibition, implying inhibition of maltase activity. Three of the four inhibitors also reduced starch degradation and seedling growth, but the fourth did not affect these parameters. Inhibition of starch degradation was apparently not due to inhibition of amylases. Inhibition of seedling growth was primarily a direct effect of the inhibitors on roots and coleoptiles rather than an indirect effect of the inhibition of endosperm metabolism. It may reflect inhibition of glycoprotein-processing glucosidases in these organs. In transgenic seedlings carrying an RNA interference silencing cassette for HvAgl97, a-glucosidase activity was reduced by up to 50%. There was a large decrease in the Glc-to-maltose ratio in these lines but no effect on starch degradation or seedling growth. Our results suggest that the a-glucosidase HvAGL97 is the major endosperm enzyme catalyzing the conversion of maltose to Glc but is not required for starch degradation. However, the effects of three glucosidase inhibitors on starch degradation in the endosperm indicate the existence of unidentified glucosidase(s) required for this process.
Flower development is an important determinant of grain yield in crops. In wheat (Triticum spp.), natural variation for the size of spikelet and floral organs is particularly evident in Triticum turgidum ssp. polonicum (also termed Triticum polonicum), a tetraploid subspecies of wheat with long glumes, lemmas, and grains. Using map-based cloning, we identified VEGETATIVE TO REPRODUCTIVE TRANSITION 2 (VRT2), which encodes a MADS-box transcription factor belonging to the SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE family, as the gene underlying the T. polonicum long-glume (P1) locus. The causal P1 mutation is a sequence rearrangement in intron-1 that results in ectopic expression of the T. polonicum VRT-A2 allele. Based on allelic variation studies, we propose that the intron-1 mutation in VRT-A2 is the unique T. polonicum subspecies-defining polymorphism, which was later introduced into hexaploid wheat via natural hybridizations. Near-isogenic lines differing for the P1 locus revealed a gradient effect of P1 across spikelets and within florets. Transgenic lines of hexaploid wheat carrying the T. polonicum VRT-A2 allele show that expression levels of VRT-A2 are highly correlated with spike, glume, grain, and floral organ length. These results highlight how changes in expression profiles, through variation in cis-regulation, can affect agronomic traits in a dosage-dependent manner in polyploid crops.
Aegilops tauschii, the diploid wild progenitor of the D subgenome of bread wheat, is a reservoir of genetic diversity for improving bread wheat performance and environmental resilience. Here we sequenced 242 Ae. tauschii accessions and compared them to the wheat D subgenome to characterize genomic diversity. We found that a rare lineage of Ae. tauschii geographically restricted to present-day Georgia contributed to the wheat D subgenome in the independent hybridizations that gave rise to modern bread wheat. Through k-mer-based association mapping, we identified discrete genomic regions with candidate genes for disease and pest resistance and demonstrated their functional transfer into wheat by transgenesis and wide crossing, including the generation of a library of hexaploids incorporating diverse Ae. tauschii genomes. Exploiting the genomic diversity of the Ae. tauschii ancestral diploid genome permits rapid trait discovery and functional genetic validation in a hexaploid background amenable to breeding.
Summary We investigated whether Cas9‐mediated mutagenesis of starch‐branching enzymes (SBEs) in tetraploid potatoes could generate tuber starches with a range of distinct properties. Constructs containing the Cas9 gene and sgRNAs targeting SBE1, SBE2 or both genes were introduced by Agrobacterium‐mediated transformation or by PEG‐mediated delivery into protoplasts. Outcomes included lines with mutations in all or only some of the homoeoalleles of SBE genes and lines in which homoeoalleles carried several different mutations. DNA delivery into protoplasts resulted in mutants with no detectable Cas9 gene, suggesting the absence of foreign DNA. Selected mutants with starch granule abnormalities had reductions in tuber SBE1 and/or SBE2 protein that were broadly in line with expectations from genotype analysis. Strong reduction in both SBE isoforms created an extreme starch phenotype, as reported previously for low‐SBE potato tubers. HPLC‐SEC and 1H NMR revealed a decrease in short amylopectin chains, an increase in long chains and a large reduction in branching frequency relative to wild‐type starch. Mutants with strong reductions in SBE2 protein alone had near‐normal amylopectin chain‐length distributions and only small reductions in branching frequency. However, starch granule initiation was enormously increased: cells contained many granules of <4 μm and granules with multiple hila. Thus, large reductions in both SBEs reduce amylopectin branching during granule growth, whereas reduction in SBE2 alone primarily affects numbers of starch granule initiations. Our results demonstrate that Cas9‐mediated mutagenesis of SBE genes has the potential to generate new, potentially valuable starch properties without integration of foreign DNA into the genome.
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