Here, we report our initial results of developing CRISPR/Cas9 in Tragopogon. We have established a feasible tissue culture and transformation protocol for Tragopogon. Through protoplast transient assays, use of the TragCRISPR system (i.e. the CRISPR/Cas9 system adapted for Tragopogon) was capable of introducing site-specific mutations in Tragopogon protoplasts. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation with Cas9-sgRNA constructs targeting the phytoene desaturase gene (TraPDS) was implemented in this model polyploid system. Sequencing of PCR amplicons from the target regions indicated simultaneous mutations of two alleles and four alleles of TraPDS in albino shoots from T. porrifolius (2x) and T. mirus (4x), respectively. The average proportions of successfully transformed calli with the albino phenotype were 87% and 78% in the diploid and polyploid, respectively. This appears to be the first demonstration of CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing in any naturally formed neopolyploid system. Although a more efficient tissue culture system should be developed in Tragopogon, application of a robust CRISPR/Cas9 system will permit unique studies of biased fractionation, the gene-balance hypothesis and cytonuclear interactions in polyploids. In addition, the CRISPR/Cas9 platform enables investigations of those genes involved in phenotypic changes in polyploids and will also facilitate novel functional biology studies in Asteraceae. Our workflow provides a guide for applying CRISPR/Cas9 to other non-genetic model plant systems.
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