Scientists from China National Rice Research Institute used CRISPR-Cas9 to edit Semi-Dwarf1 (SD1) in elite Chinese rice varieties, which has several desired agronomic traits. The results are published in Scientific Reports.

Expanding genetic diversity among rice varieties is vital to prevent genetic erosion or loss of genetic variation in a crop. Thus, the researchers edited SD1 in the elite landraces Kasalath and TeTePu, which contain many desired agronomic traits such as tolerance to low phosphorous and broad-spectrum resistance to several diseases and insects. Mutations of SD1 led to shorter plant height for better resistance to lodging. Field trials showed that the yield of the mutant lines was improved compared to the wild-type progenitors, while maintaining the desirable agronomic characteristics.

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that breeding using available landraces together with genome editing techniques can prevent genetic erosion in modern rice varieties.

(Source: Crop Biotech Update, International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.