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  1. Prime editing (PE) technology enables precise alterations in the genetic code of a genome of interest. PE offers great potential for identifying major agronomically important genes in plants and editing them into superior variants, ideally targeting multiple loci simultaneously to realize the collective effects of the edits. Here, we report the development of a modular assembly-based multiplex PE system in rice and demonstrate its efficacy in editing up to four genes in a single transformation experiment. The duplex PE (DPE) system achieved a co-editing efficiency of 46.1% in the T0 generation, converting TFIIAγ5 to xa5 and xa23 to Xa23SW11. The resulting double-mutant lines exhibited robust broad-spectrum resistance against multiple Xanthomonas oryzae pathovar oryzae (Xoo) strains in the T1 generation. In addition, we successfully edited OsEPSPS1 to an herbicide-tolerant variant and OsSWEET11a to a Xoo-resistant allele, achieving a co-editing rate of 57.14%. Furthermore, with the quadruple PE (QPE) system, we edited four genes-two for herbicide tolerance (OsEPSPS1 and OsALS1) and two for Xoo resistance (TFIIAγ5 and OsSWEET11a)-using one construct, with a co-editing efficiency of 43.5% for all four genes in the T0 generation. We performed multiplex PE using five more constructs, including two for triplex PE (TPE) and three for QPE, each targeting a different set of genes. The editing rates were dependent on the activity of pegRNA and/or ngRNA. For instance, optimization of ngRNA increased the PE rates for one of the targets (OsSPL13) from 0% to 30% but did not improve editing at another target (OsGS2). Overall, our modular assembly-based system yielded high PE rates and streamlined the cloning of PE reagents, making it feasible for more labs to utilize PE for their editing experiments. These findings have significant implications for advancing gene editing techniques in plants and may pave the way for future agricultural applications. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Phytopathogenic bacteria play important roles in plant productivity, and developments in gene editing have potential for enhancing the genetic tools for the identification of critical genes in the pathogenesis process. CRISPR-based genome editing variants have been developed for a wide range of applications in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. However, the unique mechanisms of different hosts restrict the wide adaptation for specific applications. Here, CRISPR-dCas9 (dead Cas9) and nCas9 (Cas9 nickase) deaminase vectors were developed for a broad range of phytopathogenic bacteria. A gene for a dCas9 or nCas9, cytosine deaminase CDA1, and glycosylase inhibitor fusion protein (cytosine base editor, or CBE) was applied to base editing under the control of different promoters. Results showed that the RecA promoter led to nearly 100% modification of the target region. When residing on the broad host range plasmid pHM1, CBERecApis efficient in creating base edits in strains ofXanthomonas,Pseudomonas,ErwiniaandAgrobacterium. CBE based on nCas9 extended the editing window and produced a significantly higher editing rate inPseudomonas. Strains with nonsynonymous mutations in test genes displayed expected phenotypes. By multiplexing guide RNA genes, the vectors can modify up to four genes in a single round of editing. Whole-genome sequencing of base-edited isolates ofXanthomonas oryzaepv.oryzaerevealed guide RNA-independent off-target mutations. Further modifications of the CBE, using a CDA1 variant (CBERecAp-A) reduced off-target effects, providing an improved editing tool for a broad group of phytopathogenic bacteria.

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  3. Abstract

    Modern agriculture depends on a narrow variety of crop species, leaving global food and nutritional security highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and population expansion. Crop improvement using conventional and molecular breeding approaches leveraging plant genetic diversity using crop wild relatives (CWRs) has been one approach to address these issues. However, the rapid pace of the global change requires additional innovative solutions to adapt agriculture to meet global needs. Neodomestication—the rapid and targeted introduction of domestication traits using introgression or genome editing of CWRs—is being explored as a supplementary approach. These methods show promise; however, they have so far been limited in efficiency and applicability. We propose expanding the scope of neodomestication beyond truly wild CWRs to include feral crops as a source of genetic diversity for novel crop development, in this case ‘redomestication’. Feral crops are plants that have escaped cultivation and evolved independently, typically adapting to their local environments. Thus, feral crops potentially contain valuable adaptive features while retaining some domestication traits. Due to their genetic proximity to crop species, feral crops may be easier targets for de novo domestication (i.e. neodomestication via genome editing techniques). In this review, we explore the potential of de novo redomestication as an application for novel crop development by genome editing of feral crops. This approach to efficiently exploit plant genetic diversity would access an underutilized reservoir of genetic diversity that could prove important in support of global food insecurity in the face of the climate change.

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  4. Abstract

    Historically, xenia effects were hypothesized to be unique genetic contributions of pollen to seed phenotype, but most examples represent standard complementation of Mendelian traits. We identified the imprinteddosage-effect defective1(ded1) locus in maize (Zea mays) as a paternal regulator of seed size and development. Hypomorphic alleles show a 5–10% seed weight reduction whended1is transmitted through the male, while homozygous mutants are defective with a 70–90% seed weight reduction.Ded1encodes an R2R3-MYB transcription factor expressed specifically during early endosperm development with paternal allele bias. DED1 directly activates early endosperm genes and endosperm adjacent to scutellum cell layer genes, while directly repressing late grain-fill genes. These results demonstrate xenia as originally defined: Imprinting ofDed1causes the paternal allele to set the pace of endosperm development thereby influencing grain set and size.

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  5. Summary

    Using genetic resistance against bacterial blight (BB) caused byXanthomonas oryzaepathovaroryzae(Xoo) is a major objective in rice breeding programmes. Prime editing (PE) has the potential to create novel germplasm againstXoo. Here, we use an improved prime‐editing system to implement two new strategies for BB resistance. Knock‐in of TAL effector binding elements (EBE) derived from the BB susceptible geneSWEET14into the promoter of a dysfunctional executorRgenexa23reaches 47.2% with desired edits including biallelic editing at 18% in T0generation that enables an inducible TALE‐dependent BB resistance. Editing the transcription factor TFIIA geneTFIIAγ5required for TAL effector‐dependent BB susceptibility recapitulates the resistance ofxa5at an editing efficiency of 88.5% with biallelic editing rate of 30% in T0generation. The engineered loci provided resistance against multipleXoostrains in T1generation. Whole‐genome sequencing detected noOsMLH1dn‐associated random mutations and no off‐target editing demonstrating high specificity of this PE system. This is the first‐ever report to use PE system to engineer resistance against biotic stress and to demonstrate knock‐in of 30‐nucleotides cis‐regulatory element at high efficiency. The new strategies hold promises to fend rice off the evolvingXoostrains and protect it from epidemics.

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  6. Mittelsten Scheid, Ortrun (Ed.)
    The post-translational addition of SUMO plays essential roles in numerous eukaryotic processes including cell division, transcription, chromatin organization, DNA repair, and stress defense through its selective conjugation to numerous targets. One prominent plant SUMO ligase is METHYL METHANESULFONATE-SENSITIVE (MMS)-21/HIGH-PLOIDY (HPY)-2/NON-SMC-ELEMENT (NSE)-2, which has been connected genetically to development and endoreduplication. Here, we describe the potential functions of MMS21 through a collection of UniformMu and CRISPR/Cas9 mutants in maize ( Zea mays ) that display either seed lethality or substantially compromised pollen germination and seed/vegetative development. RNA-seq analyses of leaves, embryos, and endosperm from mms21 plants revealed a substantial dysregulation of the maize transcriptome, including the ectopic expression of seed storage protein mRNAs in leaves and altered accumulation of mRNAs associated with DNA repair and chromatin dynamics. Interaction studies demonstrated that MMS21 associates in the nucleus with the NSE4 and STRUCTURAL MAINTENANCE OF CHROMOSOMES (SMC)-5 components of the chromatin organizer SMC5/6 complex, with in vitro assays confirming that MMS21 will SUMOylate SMC5. Comet assays measuring genome integrity, sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, and protein versus mRNA abundance comparisons implicated MMS21 in chromatin stability and transcriptional controls on proteome balance. Taken together, we propose that MMS21-directed SUMOylation of the SMC5/6 complex and other targets enables proper gene expression by influencing chromatin structure. 
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  7. Abstract

    Nonhost resistance (NHR) refers to the immunity of most tested genotypes of a plant species to most tested variants of a pathogen species. Thus, NHR is broad spectrum and durable in nature and constitutes a major safety barrier against invasion of a myriad of potentially pathogenic microbes in any plants including domesticated crops. Genetic study of NHR is generally more difficult compared to host resistance mainly because NHR is genetically more complicated and often lacks intraspecific polymorphisms. Nevertheless, substantial progress has been made towards the understanding of the molecular basis of NHR in the past two decades using various approaches. Not surprisingly, molecular mechanisms of NHR revealed so far encompasses pathogen‐associated molecular pattern‐triggered immunity and effector‐triggered immunity. In this review, we briefly discuss the inherent difficulty in genetic studies of NHR and summarize the main approaches that have been taken to identify genes contributing to NHR. We also discuss new enabling strategies for dissecting multilayered NHR in model plants with a focus on NHR against filamentous pathogens, especially biotrophic pathogens such as powdery mildew and rust fungi.

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  8. Abstract Why do some biological systems and communities persist while others fail? Robustness, a system's stability, and resilience, the ability to return to a stable state, are key concepts that span multiple disciplines within and outside the biological sciences. Discovering and applying common rules that govern the robustness and resilience of biological systems is a critical step toward creating solutions for species survival in the face of climate change, as well as the for the ever-increasing need for food, health, and energy for human populations. We propose that network theory provides a framework for universal scalable mathematical models to describe robustness and resilience and the relationship between them, and hypothesize that resilience at lower organization levels contribute to robust systems. Insightful models of biological systems can be generated by quantifying the mechanisms of redundancy, diversity, and connectivity of networks, from biochemical processes to ecosystems. These models provide pathways towards understanding how evolvability can both contribute to and result from robustness and resilience under dynamic conditions. We now have an abundance of data from model and non-model systems and the technological and computational advances for studying complex systems. Several conceptual and policy advances will allow the research community to elucidate the rules of robustness and resilience. Conceptually, a common language and data structure that can be applied across levels of biological organization needs to be developed. Policy advances such as cross-disciplinary funding mechanisms, access to affordable computational capacity, and the integration of network theory and computer science within the standard biological science curriculum will provide the needed research environments. This new understanding of biological systems will allow us to derive ever more useful forecasts of biological behaviors and revolutionize the engineering of biological systems that can survive changing environments or disease, navigate the deepest oceans, or sustain life throughout the solar system. 
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  9. null (Ed.)