J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2021, Vol. 63 ›› Issue (9): 1649-1663.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13151

Special Issue: Crop yield Genome editing

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Increasing yield potential through manipulating of an ARE1 ortholog related to nitrogen use efficiency in wheat by CRISPR/Cas9

Jiahui Zhang1, Huating Zhang1,2, Shaoya Li1, Jingying Li1, Lei Yan1 and Lanqin Xia1*   

  1. 1 Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
    2 School of Agricultural Sciences, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China

    *Correspondence: Lanqin Xia (xialanqin@caas.cn)
  • Received:2021-07-03 Accepted:2021-07-15 Online:2021-07-16 Published:2021-09-01

Abstract: Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is a staple food crop consumed by more than 30% of world population. Nitrogen (N) fertilizer has been applied broadly in agriculture practice to improve wheat yield to meet the growing demands for food production. However, undue N fertilizer application and the low N use efficiency (NUE) of modern wheat varieties are aggravating environmental pollution and ecological deterioration. Under nitrogen-limiting conditions, the rice (Oryza sativa) abnormal cytokinin response1 repressor1 (are1) mutant exhibits increased NUE, delayed senescence and consequently, increased grain yield. However, the function of ARE1 ortholog in wheat remains unknown. Here, we isolated and characterized three TaARE1 homoeologs from the elite Chinese winter wheat cultivar ZhengMai 7698. We then used CRISPR/Cas9-mediated targeted mutagenesis to generate a series of transgene-free mutant lines either with partial or triple-null taare1 alleles. All transgene-free mutant lines showed enhanced tolerance to N starvation, and showed delayed senescence and increased grain yield in field conditions. In particular, the AABBdd and aabbDD mutant lines exhibited delayed senescence and significantly increased grain yield without growth defects compared to the wild-type control. Together, our results underscore the potential to manipulate ARE1 orthologs through gene editing for breeding of high-yield wheat as well as other cereal crops with improved NUE.

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