Efficient generation of mutations mediated by CRISPR/Cas9 in the hairy root transformation system of Brassica carinata

authored by
Thomas W. Kirchner, Markus Niehaus, Thomas Debener, Manfred K. Schenk, Marco Herde

A protocol for the induction of site-directed deletions and insertions in the genome of Brassica carinata with CRISPR is described. The construct containing the Cas9 nuclease and the guide RNA (gRNA) was delivered by the hairy root transformation technique, and a successful transformation was monitored by GFP fluorescence. PAGE analysis of an amplified region, presumably containing the deletions and insertions, demonstrated up to seven different indels in one transgenic root and in all analyzed roots a wildtype allele of the modified gene was not detectable. Interestingly, many of these mutations consisted of relatively large indels with up to 112 bp. The exact size of the deletions was determined to allow an estimation whether the targeted gene was not functional due to a considerable deletion or a frame shift within the open reading frame. This allowed a direct phenotypic assessment of the previously characterized roots and, in fact, deletions in FASCICLIN-LIKE ARABINOGALACTAN PROTEIN 1 (BcFLA1)–a gene with an expression pattern consistent with a role in root hair architecture–resulted in shorter root hairs compared to control roots ectopically expressing an allele of the gene that cannot be targeted by the gRNA in parallel to the CRISPR construct. As an additional line of evidence, we monitored BcFLA1 expression with qPCR and detected a significant reduction of the transcript in roots with an active CRISPR construct compared to the control, although residual amounts of the transcript were detected, possibly due to inefficient nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. Additionally, the presence of deletions and insertions were verified by Sanger sequencing of the respective amplicons. In summary we demonstrate the successful application of CRISPR/Cas9 in hairy roots of B. carinata, the proof of its effectiveness and its effect on the root hair phenotype. This study paves the way for experimental strategies involving the phenotypic assessment of gene lesions by CRISPR which do not require germline transmission.

Institute of Plant Nutrition
Institute of Plant Genetics
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all), Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all), General
Electronic version(s)
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185429 (Access: Open)