First genome edited poinsettias: using CRISPR/Cas9 results in a color shift

The CRISPR/Cas9 system is a remarkably promising tool for targeted gene mutagenesis, and becoming ever more popular for modification of ornamental plants. In this study researchers performed the knockout of flavonoid 3 ′ -hydroxylase ( F3 ′ H ) with application of CRISPR/Cas9 in the red flowering poinsettia ( Euphorbia pulcherrima) cultivar ‘Christmas Eve’, in order to obtain plants with orange bract color, which accumulate prevalently pelargonidin.

F3′H is an enzyme that is necessary for formation of cyanidin type anthocyanins, which are responsible for the red color of poinsettia bracts. Even though F3′H was not completely inactivated, the bract color of transgenic plants changed from vivid red (RHS 45B) to vivid reddish orange (RHS 33A), and cyanidin levels decreased significantly compared with the wild type.

In the genetically modified plants, an increased ratio of pelargonidin to cyanidin was observed. By cloning and expression of mutated proteins, the lack of F3′H activity was confirmed. This confirms that a loss of function mutation in the poinsettia F3′H gene is sufficient for obtaining poinsettia with orange bract color. This is the first report of successful use of CRISPR/Cas9 for genome editing in poinsettia.

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Nitarska, Daria & Boehm, Robert & Debener, Thomas & Lucaciu, Rares & Halbwirth, Heidi. (2021). First genome edited poinsettias: targeted mutagenesis of flavonoid 3′-hydroxylase using CRISPR/Cas9 results in a colour shift. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (PCTOC). 147. 10.1007/s11240-021-02103-5. 

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