In this study, we report the successful genetic transformation of einkorn using biolistic-mediated DNA delivery. Immature embryo-derived tissues of spring einkorn were bombarded with a plasmid containing the reporter gene GFP (green fluorescent protein) driven by the rice actin promoter (act1) and the selectable bar gene (bialaphos resistance gene) driven by the maize ubiquitin promoter (ubi1). Adjustments to various parameters such as gas pressure, microcarrier size and developmental stage of target tissue were essential for successful transient and stable transformation. Bombarded einkorn tissues are recalcitrant to regenerating plants, but certain modifications of the culture medium have been shown to increase the production of transgenic events. In various experiments, independent transgenic plants were produced at frequencies ranging from 0.0 to 0.6%. Molecular analysis, marker gene expression and herbicide treatment demonstrated that gfp/bar genes were stably integrated into the einkorn genome and successfully inherited over several generations. The transgenes, as dominant loci, segregated in both Mendelian and non-Mendelian fashion due to multiple insertions. Fertile homozygous T1-T2 populations of transgenic einkorn that are resistant to herbicides were selected.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the production of genetically modified einkorn plants. We believe that the results of our research could be a starting point for the application of the current biotechnological-based technologies, such as transgenesis and genome editing, to accelerate comparative functional genomics in einkorn and other cereals.
Figure 1: Effect of bombardment parameters and explant type on the level of transient GFP expression in einkorn cells. A Effect of helium pressure; embryos with pre-morphogenic structures were bombarded with 1.1 μm tungsten particles. B Relationship between tungsten particle size and explant type on levels of transient GFP expression; explants were bombarded using helium pressure of 80 Psi. Means with the same letter have no significant differences according to Duncan’s multiple range test (P < 0.05)