Successful application of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system improving the quality of Vietnamese tomatoes

Genome editing technology through the CRISPR/Cas system is being considered the most accurate and effective method used in crop improvement today. This technology allows the creation of directional mutations, which can affect many genes at the same time and especially can select mutant lines that do not carry any foreign DNA sequences in the genome.

A research team at the Institute of Biotechnology, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, has developed and applied this technology in inducing directional mutations to improve the sugar and amino acid content in the fruit of the tomato variety.  This is the product within the framework of the research project "Research on improving the sugar and amino acid content in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit through gene mutation using the CRISPR/Cas9 system" by the Academy of Science and Technology. Sponsored by Vietnam Technology (subject code DLTE00.10/20-21), Dr. Do Tien Phat is in charge.

Dr. Do Tien Phat said that the majority of tomato varieties in the world as well as in Vietnam are selected towards serving daily consumption and use in the processing industry with the characteristics of fast growth, large fruit, high energy and high yield, but little attention is paid to taste. To increase the taste and nutritional value of tomato fruit, recent studies have applied genome editing technology to influence a biosynthetic pathway of substances in the fruit. A good example is the GABA tomato, a gene-edited Japanese tomato that has been shown to help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. This is one of the first gene-edited plants to be commercialized in the world. On that basis, in their research, the team aimed to increase the sugar content, which makes tomatoes taste better and increase the content of healthy amino acids.

Specifically, Dr. Do Tien Phat and his team have developed a CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system carrying two directed sequences to generate targeted mutations in the forward sequence regions (uORFs) of the SlbZIP1 gene involved in biosynthesis of sugars and amino acids in tomato plants. For research that is both scientific and practical, the research team selected the subject of editing, which is the PT18 tomato variety from Vietnam. This is a pure tomato variety and was grown quite popularly in our country before. The results of fruit composition analysis of the gene-edited lines showed a significant increase in total sugar and amino acid content.

Notably, the SlbZIP1-uORF mutant tomato lines had desirable properties such as higher sugar and amino acid content than the control (unedited) plants, but did not adversely affect the phenotype or fertility. In addition, mutations in the SlbZIP1-uORF region identified in the T0 generation were stably inherited to the next generation and did not carry off-target mutations.

The research results show the potential of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system to improve tomato fruit quality in particular and extend to other important crops. The study was published in Planta, a prestigious journal of plant biotechnology, in the Q1 ISI group.

Planta Differences in fruit morphology and biochemical parameters of control (WT) tomato lines compared with gene-edited tomato lines

Comparison of plant phenotypes and growth parameters of control (WT) tomato lines with gene-edited tomato lines

Translated by Quoc Khanh
Link to Vietnamese version

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