Stacked mutations in wheat homologues of rice SEMI-DWARF1 confer a novel semi-dwarf phenotype


BMC Plant Biol. 2024 May 9;24(1):384. doi: 10.1186/s12870-024-05098-1.


BACKGROUND: Semi-dwarfing alleles are used widely in cereals to confer improved lodging resistance and assimilate partitioning. The most widely deployed semi-dwarfing alleles in rice and barley encode the gibberellin (GA)-biosynthetic enzyme GA 20-OXIDASE2 (GA20OX2). The hexaploid wheat genome carries three homoeologous copies of GA20OX2, and because of functional redundancy, loss-of-function alleles of a single homoeologue would not be selected in wheat breeding programmes. Instead, approximately 70% of wheat cultivars carry gain-of-function mutations in REDUCED HEIGHT 1 (RHT1) genes that encode negative growth regulators and are degraded in response to GA. Semi-dwarf Rht-B1b or Rht-D1b alleles encode proteins that are insensitive to GA-mediated degradation. However, because RHT1 is expressed ubiquitously these alleles have pleiotropic effects that confer undesirable traits in some environments.

RESULTS: We have applied reverse genetics to combine loss-of-function alleles in all three homoeologues of wheat GA20OX2 and its paralogue GA20OX1 and evaluated their performance in three years of field trials. ga20ox1 mutants exhibited a mild height reduction (approximately 3%) suggesting GA20OX1 plays a minor role in stem elongation in wheat. ga20ox2 mutants have reduced GA1 content and are 12-32% shorter than their wild-type segregants, comparable to the effect of the Rht-D1b ‘Green Revolution’ allele. The ga20ox2 mutants showed no significant negative effects on yield components in the spring wheat variety ‘Cadenza’.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that chemical mutagenesis can expand genetic variation in polyploid crops to uncover novel alleles despite the difficulty in identifying appropriate mutations for some target genes and the negative effects of background mutations. Field experiments demonstrate that mutations in GA20OX2 reduce height in wheat, but it will be necessary to evaluate the effect of these alleles in different genetic backgrounds and environments to determine their value in wheat breeding as alternative semi-dwarfing alleles.

PMID:38724935 | DOI:10.1186/s12870-024-05098-1