Modification of Barley Plant Productivity Through Regulation of Cytokinin Content by Reverse-Genetics Approaches.
ABSTRACT: Barley is one of the most important cereals, which is used for breweries, animal and human feeds. Genetic manipulation of plant hormone cytokinins may influence several physiological processes, besides others stress tolerance, root formation and crop yield. In planta, endogenous cytokinin status is finely regulated by the enzyme cytokinin dehydrogenase (EC 220.127.116.11; CKX), that irreversible degrades the side chain of adenine-derived isoprenoid cytokinins. Increasing grain yield by mean of manipulation of endogenous cytokinin content was assayed by the silencing of the HvCKX1 gene. Moreover, to elucidate the putative role of HvCKX1 gene on grain production, knocked-out Hvckx1 mutant plants were generated using the RNA-guided Cas9 system. Homozygote transgenic plants with silenced HvCKX1 gene and azygous knock-out Hvckx1 mutants have been selected and analyzed. Both reduced expression of HvCKX1 gene and CKX activity were measured in different stages of barley grain development. Phenotyping of the transgenic lines revealed reduced root growth, however, plants produced more tillers and grains than azygous wild-type controls and the total yield was increased up to 15 per cent. Although plant productivity was increased, total grain biomass was decreased to 80% of WT grains. RNA-seq analysis of knock-down transgenic lines revealed that several important macronutrient transporters were downregulated in the stage of massive starch accumulation. It suggests that local accumulation of cytokinins negatively affected nutrients flow resulting in reduced grain biomass. Obtained results confirmed the key role of HvCKX1 for regulation of cytokinin content in barley.
Project description:Barley is among four of the most important cereal crops with respect to global production. Increasing barley yields to desired levels can be achieved by the genetic manipulation of cytokinin content. Cytokinins are plant hormones that regulate many developmental processes and have a strong influence on grain yield. Cytokinin homeostasis is regulated by members of several multigene families. CKX genes encode the cytokinin oxidase/dehydrogenase enzyme, which catalyzes the irreversible degradation of cytokinin. Several recent studies have demonstrated that the RNAi-based silencing of CKX genes leads to increased grain yields in some crop species. To assess the possibility of increasing the grain yield of barley by knocking out CKX genes, we used an RNA-guided Cas9 system to generate ckx1 and ckx3 mutant lines with knockout mutations in the HvCKX1 and HvCKX3 genes, respectively. Homozygous, transgene-free mutant lines were subsequently selected and analyzed. A significant decrease in CKX enzyme activity was observed in the spikes of the ckx1 lines, while in the ckx3 lines, the activity remained at a similar level to that in the control plants. Despite these differences, no changes in grain yield were observed in either mutant line. In turn, differences in CKX activity in the roots between the ckx1 and ckx3 mutants were reflected via root morphology. The decreased CKX activity in the ckx1 lines corresponded to greater root length, increased surface area, and greater numbers of root hairs, while the increased CKX activity in the ckx3 mutants gave the opposite results. RNA-seq analysis of the spike and root transcriptomes revealed an altered regulation of genes controlling cytokinin metabolism and signaling, as well as other genes that are important during seed development, such as those that encode nutrient transporters. The observed changes suggest that the knockout of a single CKX gene in barley may be not sufficient for disrupting cytokinin homeostasis or increasing grain yields.
Project description:Barley is one of the most important cereal crops grown worldwide. It has numerous applications, but its utility could potentially be extended by genetically manipulating its hormonal balances. To explore some of this potential we identified gene families of cytokinin dehydrogenases (CKX) and isopentenyl transferases, enzymes that respectively irreversibly degrade and synthesize cytokinin (CK) plant hormones, in the raw sequenced barley genome. We then examined their spatial and temporal expression patterns by immunostaining and qPCR. Two CKX-specific antibodies, anti-HvCKX1 and anti-HvCKX9, predominantly detect proteins in the aleurone layer of maturing grains and leaf vasculature, respectively. In addition, two selected CKX genes were used for stable, Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation of the barley cultivar Golden Promise. The results show that constitutive overexpression of CKX causes morphological changes in barley plants and prevents their transition to flowering. In all independent transgenic lines roots proliferated more rapidly and root-to-shoot ratios were higher than in wild-type plants. Only one transgenic line, overexpressing CKX under the control of a promoter from a phosphate transporter gene, which is expressed more strongly in root tissue than in aerial parts, yielded progeny. Analysis of several T1-generation plants indicates that plants tend to compensate for effects of the transgene and restore CK homeostasis later during development. Depleted CK levels during early phases of development are restored by down-regulation of endogenous CKX genes and reinforced de novo biosynthesis of CKs.
Project description:Cytokinin oxidase/dehydrogenase proteins (CKX) are encoded by a multigene family of CKX genes with a varying number of members depending on species. For some of the genes, spectacular effects on grain production in selected cereals have been observed. Despite the fact that partial or full length sequences of most HvCKX genes in barley (Hordeum vulgare) have already been published, in most cases their specific biological functions have not been reported. Detailed expression patterns for five HvCKX genes in different organs/tissues of developing barley plants coupled with analysis of RNAi silent for two genes are presented to test the hypothesis that these expression profiles might indicate their function. Elevated expression for four of them - HvCKX1, HvCKX9, HvCKX4, and HvCKX11 - was found in developing kernels of wild-type plants compared to other tissues. HvCKX5 was mainly expressed in leaf tissue. Lower expression was noted for HvCKX1 in seedling roots and for HvCKX9 in leaves. The documented effect of RNAi silencing of HvCKX1 and a trend for HvCKX9 was higher plant productivity, and the trait was inherited through four generations. Higher plant yield was determined by higher numbers of seeds and spikes. Increased productivity was significantly greater in HvCKX1 silenced plants showing higher relative expression of HvCKX1 in developing kernels of wild-type plants compared to the expression of HvCKX9. Both HvCKX1 silenced T1 seedlings of cv. Golden Promise and the newly transformed breeding line STH7308 showed greater root mass, but this trait was not inherited in the next generation. Similarly HvCKX9 silenced T1 seedlings exhibited greater plant height without inheritance in the next generation. It is suggested that these effects were not inherited because of compensation by other genes co-ordinately regulating reproductive development. One line with untypically changed, inherited phenotype, which was selected from several dozen silenced lines showing stable and common phenotypes is presented.
Project description:Cytokinins are plant-specific hormones that affect plant growth and development. The endogenous level of cytokinins in plant cells is regulated in part by irreversible degradation via cytokinin oxidase/dehydrogenase (CKX). Among the 11 rice CKXs, CKX2 has been implicated in regulation of rice grain yield.To specifically down-regulate OsCKX2 expression, we have chosen two conserved glycosylation regions of OsCKX2 for designing artificial short hairpin RNA interference genes (shRNA-CX3 and -CX5, representing the 5' and 3' glycosylation region sequences, respectively) for transformation by the Agrobacterium-mediated method. For each construct, 5 independent transgenic lines were obtained for detailed analysis. Southern blot analysis confirmed the integration of the shRNA genes into the rice genome, and quantitative real time RT-PCR and northern blot analyses showed reduced OsCKX2 expression in the young stem of transgenic rice at varying degrees. However, the expression of other rice CKX genes, such as CKX1 and CKX3, in these transgenic lines was not altered. Transgenic rice plants grown in the greenhouse were greener and more vigorous with delayed senescence, compared to the wild type. In field experiments, both CX3 and CX5 transgenic rice plants produced more tillers (27-81 %) and grains (24-67 %) per plant and had a heavier 1000 grain weight (5-15 %) than the wild type. The increases in grain yield were highly correlated with increased tiller numbers. Consistently, insertional activation of OsCKX2 led to increased expression of CKX2 and reduced tiller number and growth in a gene-dosage dependant manner.Taken together, these results demonstrate that specific suppression of OsCKX2 expression through shRNA-mediated gene silencing leads to enhanced growth and productivity in rice by increasing tiller number and grain weight.
Project description:The plant hormone group, the cytokinins, is implicated in both qualitative and quantitative components of yield. Cytokinins have opposing actions in shoot and root growth-actions shown to involve cytokinin dehydrogenase (CKX), the enzyme that inactivates cytokinin. We revise and provide unambiguous names for the CKX gene family members in wheat, based on the most recently released wheat genome database, IWGSC RefSeq v1.0 & v2.0. We review expression data of CKX gene family members in wheat, revealing tissue-specific gene family member expression as well as sub-genome-specific expression. Manipulation of CKX in cereals shows clear impacts on yield, root growth and orientation, and Zn nutrition, but this also emphasizes the necessity to unlink promotive effects on grain yield from negative effects of cytokinin on root growth and uptake of mineral nutrients, particularly Zn and Fe. Wheat is the most widely grown cereal crop globally, yet is under-research compared with rice and maize. We highlight gaps in our knowledge of the involvement of CKX for wheat. We also highlight the necessity for accurate analysis of endogenous cytokinins, acknowledging why this is challenging, and provide examples where inadequate analyses of endogenous cytokinins have led to unjustified conclusions. We acknowledge that the allohexaploid nature of bread wheat poses challenges in terms of uncovering useful mutations. However, we predict TILLING followed by whole-exome sequencing will uncover informative mutations and we indicate the potential for stacking mutations within the three genomes to modify yield components. We model a wheat ideotype based on CKX manipulation.
Project description:Cotton is the leading natural fiber crop in the world. Cotton seeds are also an important oil and protein source. However, enhancement of fiber abundance usually leads to a smaller seed. Thus, it has become a challenge for cotton breeding to concurrently increase fiber yield and seed yield. To improve cotton yield, we elevated the endogenous cytokinin level in transgenic cotton by constitutive suppression of cytokinin dehydrogenase (CKX), a key negative regulator controlling endogenous cytokinin in plants. The slightly and moderately suppressed transgenic cotton plants showed normal growth and development, while the severely suppressed plants exhibited a typical cytokinin-overproduction alteration. The suppression of CKX led to an enhancement of endogenous cytokinins in transgenic cotton plants. Total cytokinins in moderately suppressed lines, CR-3 and CR-6, increased by 20.4 and 55.5 % respectively, and that in the severely suppressed line (CR-13) increased by 134.2 % compared to the wild type. The moderately suppressed lines showed a delay in leaf senescence, higher photosynthesis, more fruiting branches and bolls, and bigger seed size. Field trials showed that seed yield and lint yield of the moderately suppressed CR-6 line increased by 15.4 and 20.0 %, respectively. Meanwhile, the enhanced cytokinin level in transgenic cottons did not show significant influence on fiber qualities. Our data demonstrated that CKX is a promising gene for crop yield improvement.
Project description:Background:Genome editing of monocot plants can be accomplished by using the components of the CRISPR/Cas9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat/CRISPR associated Cas9) technology specifically optimized for these types of plants. Here, we present the development of RNA-guided Cas9 system for simplex and multiplex genome editing in barley. Results:We developed a set of customizable RNA-guided Cas9 binary vectors and sgRNA modules for simplex and multiplex editing in barley. To facilitate the design of RNA-guided Cas9 constructs, the pBract derived binary vectors were adapted to Gateway cloning and only one restriction enzyme was required for construction of the sgRNA. We designed a synthetic, codon optimized Cas9 gene containing the N terminal SV40 nuclear localization signal and the UBQ10 Arabidopsis 1st intron. Two different sgRNAs were constructed for simplex editing and one polycistronic tRNA-gRNA construct (PTG) for multiplex editing using an endogenous tRNA processing system. The RNA-guided Cas9 constructs were validated in transgenic barley plants produced by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The highest mutation rate was observed in simplex editing of the cytokinin oxidase/dehydrogenase HvCKX1 gene, where mutations at the hvckx1 locus were detected in 88% of the screened T0 plants. We also proved the efficacy of the PTG construct in the multiplex editing of two CKX genes by obtaining 9 plants (21% of all edited plants) with mutations induced in both HvCKX1 and HvCKX3. Analysis of the T1 lines revealed that mutations in the HvCKX1 gene were transmitted to the next generation of plants. Among 220 screened T1 plants we identified 85 heterozygous and 28 homozygous mutants, most of them bearing frameshift mutations in the HvCKX1 gene. We also observed independent segregation of mutations and the Cas9-sgRNA T-DNA insert in several T1 plants. Moreover, the knockout mutations of the Nud gene generated phenotype mutants with naked grains, and the phenotypic changes were identifiable in T0 plants. Conclusions:We demonstrated the effectiveness of an optimized RNA-guided Cas9 system that can be used for generating homozygous knockout mutants in the progeny of transgenic barely plants. This is also the first report of successful multiplex editing in barley using a tRNA processing system.
Project description:BACKGROUND: CKX genes encode cytokinin dehydrogenase enzymes (CKX), which metabolize cytokinins in plants and influence developmental processes. The genes are expressed in different tissues and organs during development; however, their exact role in barley is poorly understood. It has already been proven that RNA interference (RNAi)-based silencing of HvCKX1 decreased the CKX level, especially in those organs which showed the highest expression, i.e. developing kernels and roots, leading to higher plant productivity and higher mass of the roots . The same type of RNAi construct was applied to silence HvCKX2 and analyze the function of the gene. Two cultivars of barley were transformed with the same silencing and selection cassettes by two different methods: biolistic and via Agrobacterium. RESULTS: The mean Agrobacterium-mediated transformation efficiency of Golden Promise was 3.47% (±2.82). The transcript level of HvCKX2 in segregating progeny of T(1) lines was decreased to 34%. The reduction of the transcript in Agrobacterium-derived plants resulted in decreased CKX activity in the developing and developed leaves as well as in 7 DAP (days after pollination) spikes. The final phenotypic effect was increased productivity of T(0) plants and T(1) lines. Higher productivity was the result of the higher number of seeds and higher grain yield. It was also correlated with the higher 1000 grain weight, increased (by 7.5%) height of the plants and higher (from 0.5 to 2) numbers of spikes. The transformation efficiency of Golden Promise after biolistic transformation was more than twice as low compared to Agrobacterium. The transcript level in segregating progeny of T(1) lines was decreased to 24%. Otherwise, the enzyme activity found in the leaves of the lines after biolistic transformation, especially in cv. Golden Promise, was very high, exceeding the relative level of the control lines. These unbalanced ratios of the transcript level and the activity of the CKX enzyme negatively affected kernel germination or anther development and as a consequence setting the seeds. The final phenotypic effect was the decreased productivity of T(0) plants and T(1) lines obtained via the biolistic silencing of HvCKX2. CONCLUSION: The phenotypic result, which was higher productivity of silenced lines obtained via Agrobacterium, confirms the hypothesis that spatial and temporal differences in expression contributed to functional differentiation. The applicability of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation for gene silencing of developmentally regulated genes, like HvCKX2, was proven. Otherwise low productivity and disturbances in plant development of biolistic-silenced lines documented the unsuitability of the method. The possible reasons are discussed.
Project description:Zinc (Zn) is an essential element in human nutrition. The concentration of Zn in cereals, which is a staple food in developing countries, is often too low thus contributing to Zn malnutrition in nearly two billion people worldwide. We have reported recently that transgenic barley plants expressing a cytokinin-degrading CYTOKININ OXIDASE/DEHYDROGENASE (CKX) gene in their roots form a larger root system and accumulate a higher concentration of Zn in their grains when grown under greenhouse conditions. Here, we have tested this trait under field conditions. Four independent pEPP:CKX lines accumulated an up to 30% higher Zn concentration in their grains as compared to the untransformed control suggesting that this is a stable trait. The increased Zn concentration exceeded the limit set by the HarvestPlus program for wheat. We, therefore, propose that root enhancement achieved by increased degradation of cytokinin in roots can be a sustainable strategy to combat malnutrition caused by Zn deficiency.
Project description:Poor filling of grains in the basal spikelets of large size panicles bearing numerous spikelets has been a major limitation in attempts to increase the rice production to feed the world's increasing population. Considering that biotechnological intervention could play important role in overcoming this limitation, the role of cytokinin in grain filling was investigated based on the information on cell proliferating potential of the hormone and reports of its high accumulation in immature seeds.A comparative study considering two rice varieties differing in panicle compactness, lax-panicle Upahar and compact-panicle OR-1918, revealed significant difference in grain filling, cytokinin oxidase (CKX) activity and expression, and expression of cell cycle regulators and cytokinin signaling components between the basal and apical spikelets of OR-1918, but not of Upahar. Exogenous application of cytokinin (6-Benzylaminopurine, BAP) to OR-1918 improved grain filling significantly, and this was accompanied by a significant decrease in expression and activity of CKX, particularly in the basal spikelets where the activity of CKX was significantly higher than that in the apical spikelets. Cytokinin application also resulted in significant increase in expression of cell cycle regulators like cyclin dependent kinases and cyclins in the basal spikelets that might be facilitating cell division in the endosperm cells by promoting G1/S phase and G2/M phase transition leading to improvement in grain filling. Expression studies of type-A response regulator (RR) component of cytokinin signaling indicated possible role of OsRR3, OsRR4 and OsRR6 as repressors of CKX expression, much needed for an increased accumulation of CK in cells. Furthermore, the observed effect of BAP might not be solely because of it, but also because of induced synthesis of trans-zeatin (tZ) and N6-(?2-isopentenyl)adenine (iP), as reflected from accumulation of tZR (tZ riboside) and iPR (iP riboside), and significantly enhanced expression of an isopentenyl transferase (IPT) isoform.The results suggested that seed-specific overexpression of OsRR4 and OsRR6, and more importantly of IPT9 could be an effective biotechnological intervention towards improving the CK level of the developing caryopses leading to enhanced grain filling in rice cultivars bearing large panicles with numerous spikelets, and thereby increasing their yield potential.