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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Crop Improvement and Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #434920

Research Project: Developing Abiotic Stress Tolerant Wheat Using Gene Editing

Location: Crop Improvement and Genetics Research

Project Number: 2030-21220-002-008-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2018
End Date: Jun 30, 2022

Utilize precise CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing techniques to generate wheat plants that have mutations in wheat Sal1 homologous genes. Determine whether wheat sal1 mutant plants have improved drought stress tolerance.

The creation of abiotic stress tolerant crops is an important avenue to ensure good agricultural yields despite environmental challenges. Here, we propose to use the CRISPR (Clustered Regulatory Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)/Cas9 system, a sophisticated and effective tool for generating precise genomic changes, to knock out wheat genes homologous to Sal1. The Sal1 gene encodes a 3'-phosphoadenosine 5'-phosphate phosphatase enzyme that is hypothesized to be a plastid-localized oxidative stress sensor. Research performed in model plant systems has demonstrated that sal1 mutants have significantly enhanced tolerance to drought. The sal1 plants exhibit a reprogramming of their metabolism resulting in an increase in osmoprotectant compounds and the stress hormone abscisic acid. These changes are manifested as abiotic stress tolerance. Our proposed translational research will examine whether knockouts of the wheat Sal1 genes will result in plants with improved drought stress tolerance. Although these wheat plants will be generated using genetic transformation, the resulting sal1 mutants can be separated from the transgenes to generate wheat genotypes without foreign DNA. This may facilitate their adoption and release as improved wheat cultivars.