Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-Cas9 Editing Improves Strawberry Fruit Firmness

December 14, 2023

Strawberry, known for its flavor and health benefits, is an important agricultural commodity. However, its soft flesh leads to a short shelf life and waste. Research has identified that pectinase enzymes are instrumental in this softening process.

Researchers from Nanjing University used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to grow strawberry plants with the knockedout FaPG1 gene. The genomic sequence of FaPG1 was cross-referenced with the most recent Fragaria × ananassa genomes. Two annotations were located on chromosome 6A, one in the Camarosa genome (FxaC_21g15770) and the other in the Royal Royce genome (Fxa6Ag103973). The FxaC_21g15770 sequence was used to select an sgRNA for editing. The chosen sgRNA was cloned and transferred to the pDe-CAS9 vector. The Transformation was carried out using Agrobacterium tumefaciens on "Chandler" strawberry plants, yielding over 15 resistant lines. Ten of these resistant lines were assessed, and all showed successful FaPG1 editing.

The researchers assessed the post-harvest characteristics of the strawberries and found that the edited fruits had reduced softening rates and increased resistance to fungal rot compared to wild types. The edited fruit also showed enhanced resistance to Botrytis cinerea, a fungal pathogen causing rot in many plant species including strawberries and wine grapes.

For more details, read the open-access paper in Horticulture Research.

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