April 21, 2020  |  

Comprehensive identification of the full-length transcripts and alternative splicing related to the secondary metabolism pathways in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis).

Flavonoids, theanine and caffeine are the main secondary metabolites of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), which account for the tea’s unique flavor quality and health benefits. The biosynthesis pathways of these metabolites have been extensively studied at the transcriptional level, but the regulatory mechanisms are still unclear. In this study, to explore the transcriptome diversity and complexity of tea plant, PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis were combined to obtain full-length transcripts and to profile the changes in gene expression during the leaf development. A total of 1,388,066 reads of insert (ROI) were generated with an average length of 1,762?bp, and more than 54% (755,716) of the ROIs were full-length non-chimeric (FLNC) reads. The Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologue (BUSCO) completeness was 92.7%. A total of 93,883 non-redundant transcripts were obtained, and 87,395 (93.1%) were new alternatively spliced isoforms. Meanwhile, 7,650 differential expression transcripts (DETs) were identified. A total of 28,980 alternative splicing (AS) events were predicted, including 1,297 differential AS (DAS) events. The transcript isoforms of the key genes involved in the flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis pathways were characterized. Additionally, 5,777 fusion transcripts and 9,052 long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were also predicted. Our results revealed that AS potentially plays a crucial role in the regulation of the secondary metabolism of the tea plant. These findings enhanced our understanding of the complexity of the secondary metabolic regulation of tea plants and provided a basis for the subsequent exploration of the regulatory mechanisms of flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis in tea plants.

April 21, 2020  |  

Linking CRISPR-Cas9 interference in cassava to the evolution of editing-resistant geminiviruses.

Geminiviruses cause damaging diseases in several important crop species. However, limited progress has been made in developing crop varieties resistant to these highly diverse DNA viruses. Recently, the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 system has been transferred to plants to target and confer immunity to geminiviruses. In this study, we use CRISPR-Cas9 interference in the staple food crop cassava with the aim of engineering resistance to African cassava mosaic virus, a member of a widespread and important family (Geminiviridae) of plant-pathogenic DNA viruses.Our results show that the CRISPR system fails to confer effective resistance to the virus during glasshouse inoculations. Further, we find that between 33 and 48% of edited virus genomes evolve a conserved single-nucleotide mutation that confers resistance to CRISPR-Cas9 cleavage. We also find that in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana the replication of the novel, mutant virus is dependent on the presence of the wild-type virus.Our study highlights the risks associated with CRISPR-Cas9 virus immunity in eukaryotes given that the mutagenic nature of the system generates viral escapes in a short time period. Our in-depth analysis of virus populations also represents a template for future studies analyzing virus escape from anti-viral CRISPR transgenics. This is especially important for informing regulation of such actively mutagenic applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in agriculture.

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