Massive crossover suppression by CRISPR–Cas-mediated plant chromosome engineering

Recent studies have demonstrated that not only genes but also entire chromosomes can be engineered using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)–CRISPER-associated protein 9 (Cas9)1,2,3,4,5.

A major objective of applying chromosome restructuring in plant breeding is the manipulation of genetic exchange6. Here is shown that meiotic recombination can be suppressed in nearly the entire chromosome using chromosome restructuring. Here it induces a heritable inversion of a >17 Mb-long chromosome fragment that contained the centromere and covered most of chromosome 2 of the Arabidopsis ecotype Col-0. Only the 2 and 0.5 Mb-long telomeric ends remained in their original orientation.

In single-nucleotide polymorphism, marker analysis of the offspring of crosses with the ecotype Ler-1 detected a massive reduction of crossovers within the inverted chromosome region, coupled with a shift of crossovers to the telomeric ends. The few genetic exchanges detected within the inversion all originated from double crossovers. This not only indicates that heritable genetic exchange can occur by interstitial chromosome pairing but also that it is restricted to the production of viable progeny.

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