Study highlights role of duplicated genes in reproduction

New genes that improve crop yields are a dream come true for plant geneticistsbut Cold Spring Harbor lab professor and HHMI investigator Zachary Lippman warns that a single gene might not cut it for every crop.

Research reported in natural plants and led by Lipman, former postdoc Cao Xu (now at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing) and his colleagues found that closely related genes in the genome play a major role in the efficiency of duplicated genes.

Gene duplications are found in many plants and support the original gene as “backup copies”.

Gene duplication has been successful in improving crops in the past. In fact, “recent whole-genome duplications that have occurred in the lines of several domesticated crop species, including wheat (Triticum aestivum), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), and soybean (Glycine max), have contributed to important agronomic traits, such as grain. quality, fruit shape and flowering time,” said a topical exam by the Genetics Program and Department of Plant Biology at Michigan State University.

Therefore, Lippman and his team were surprised to find that one gene is not enough to predict the outcome of predicted changes, a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory said. Press release.

“The lack of predictability in the context of a duplicate gene must really be a revelation for crop improvement design,” Lippman explained, according to the press release.

The Lippman study

The study focused on the gene clv3. This gene makes a protein that limits the growth of maturing plant tissues.

Previous research has proven mutations in clv3 can lead to higher yields in houseplants. Take tomatoes for example. When introduced to mutations, larger fruits with more seed sections were produced.

The researchers introduced equivalent mutations into the clv3 gene in tomato, tobacco, ground cherry and petunia plants, all members of the Solanaceae family. Lippman and his team expected similar results, but were surprised by what they found.

In tobacco, the mutation resulted in dramatic effects with the doubling of certain growth regions, “due to the loss by the plant of the clv3 rescue gene,” the press release read. Tomato saw more moderate effects.

Mutated clv3 had little effect on ground cherry and petunia. “Both factories had clv3-like genes that compensated for the changes the researchers made to the clv3 gene,” Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory explained in the release.

Based on his findings, Lippman believes that inventorying duplicate genes could be key to optimizing crops through genome editing.

“Crop developers need to understand how important genes have been duplicated, deleted and modified during evolution. This allows scientists to develop more predictable crop improvements,” Lippman concluded.

Learn more about genome editing:

JR Simplot Company and Plant Sciences Inc. Collaborate on Strawberry Gene Editing

Bioheuris partners with GDM to develop a soybean crop management system using gene editing

Origin Agritech Ltd used gene editing technology to create new maize traits

Why gene editing is a solution to climate change