Developing more resilient crops that would allow a sustainable and durable cultivation has only recently become an important topic in ornamental breeding. In order to respond to these new demands, ornamental breeding needs new tools and preferably tackle multiple issues simultaneously to propel a new generation of cultivars for the future. In the same time, ornamental crops are valued for their aesthetic features, positively influencing the quality of life and our environment. CRISPR/Cas technology presents new opportunities for rapid mutant generation to change multiple traits. In this joint project of WUR Plant breeding and Hogeschool InHolland, we aim to apply the CRISPR/Cas gene editing technology to simultaneously mutate two different characteristics: pathogen resistance and flower color. This will be achieved in two ornamental plants, namely in carnation by modifying Fusarium sensitivity and the floral color from red / pink to white, and in alstroemeria by targeting virus sensitivity and the floral color from red / pink to white.
This project aims to improve ornamental crops and provide means to develop new varieties by introducing mutations that will result in a reduced susceptibility to pathogens and in altered flower color.
The awareness of the environmental impact of the large-scale production of ornamental crops has increased tremendously. This has led to the desire to reduce the use of chemical crop protectants in cultivation as well as to breed for more robust and resilient ornamental crops with an improved ability of dealing with (a)biotic stresses. This project will produce mutants of carnation and alstroemeria, in which MEDIATOR-type S-genes or IF/EF genes respectively, have been knocked out by CRISPR/Cas-induced targeted mutations in order to reduce susceptibility to various forms of biotic stress.
Planned results for 2020:
• Design guides to target susceptibility genes and genes involved in the floral pigmentation in both carnation and alstroemeria
• Continue identification of mediator-type S genes in carnation
• Continue identification of eIF4E and eEF1By genes in alstroemeria
• Develop gene editing constructs
• Transform carnation and alstroemeria with the CRISPR/Cas constructs
• Obtain the first mutants of carnation and/or alstroemeria
• Project progress meetings are to be held three times per year