Plant Cell Rep 2019 Apr 29;38(4):475-485. Epub 2018 Aug 29.
Department of Biotechnology, Center for Informational Biology, School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Room 216, Main Building, No. 4, Section 2, North Jianshe Road, Chengdu, 610054, People's Republic of China.
Key Message: Significant yield increase has been achieved by simultaneous introduction of three trait-related QTLs in three rice varieties with multiplex editing by CRISPR-Cas9. Using traditional breeding approaches to develop new elite rice varieties with high yield and superior quality is challenging. It usually requires introduction of multiple trait-related quantitative trait loci (QTLs) into an elite background through multiple rounds of crossing and selection. CRISPR-Cas9-based multiplex editing of QTLs represents a new breeding strategy that is straightforward and cost effective. To test this approach, we simultaneously targeted three yield-related QTLs for editing in three elite rice varieties, namely J809, L237 and CNXJ. The chosen yield-related QTL genes are OsGS3, OsGW2 and OsGn1a, which have been identified to negatively regulate the grain size, width and weight, and number, respectively. Our approach rapidly generated all seven combinations of single, double and triple mutants for the target genes in elite backgrounds. Detailed analysis of these mutants revealed differential contributions of QTL mutations to yield performance such as grain length, width, number and 1000-grain weight. Overall, the contributions are additive, resulting in 68 and 30% yield per panicle increase in triple mutants of J809 and L237, respectively. Our data hence demonstrates a promising genome editing approach for rapid breeding of QTLs in elite crop varieties.