Plant breeding aims to develop improved crop varieties. Many crops have a polyploid and often highly heterozygous genome, which may make breeding of polyploid crops a real challenge. The efficiency of traditional breeding based on crossing and selection has been improved by using marker-assisted selection (MAS), and MAS is also being applied in polyploid crops, which helps e.g. for introgression breeding. However, methods such as random mutation breeding are difficult to apply in polyploid crops because there are multiple homoeologous copies (alleles) of each gene. Genome editing technology has revolutionized mutagenesis as it enables precisely selecting targets. The genome editing tool CRISPR/Cas is especially valuable for targeted mutagenesis in polyploids, as all alleles and/or copies of a gene can be targeted at once. Even multiple genes, each with multiple alleles, may be targeted simultaneously. In addition to targeted mutagenesis, targeted replacement of undesirable alleles by desired ones may become a promising application of genome editing for the improvement of polyploid crops, in the near future. Several examples of the application of genome editing for targeted mutagenesis are described here for a range of polyploid crops, and achievements and bottlenecks are highlighted.
- Genome editing
- Polyploid crops