CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Mutagenesis of Carotenoid Cleavage Dioxygenase (CCD) Genes in Sorghum Alters Strigolactone Biosynthesis and Plant Biotic Interactions

Jingjie Hao, Ying Yang, Stephanie Futrell, Elizabeth A. Kelly, Claire M. Lorts, Baloua Nebie, Steven Runo, Jinliang Yang, Sophie Alvarez, Jesse R. Lasky, Daniel P. Schachtman

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4 Scopus citations


Strigolactones are a group of small molecules that play critical roles in plant developmental processes and root biotic interactions. Strigolactones are agronomically important due to their role as a signal for the germination of a parasitic weed (Striga spp.) that reduces yields of cereal crops worldwide. To identify the genes encoding strigolactones in sorghum and their function, we characterized two CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene knockouts of carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase 8 (CCD8) genes (SbCCD8a and SbCCD8b), which have been shown in other plant species to be involved in strigolactone biosynthesis. Although strigolactones are important for the parasitization of sorghum in Africa, the functions of members of the CCD8 family have not been characterized. The impact of the knockouts on strigolactone production, plant growth and development, resistance to the parasitic weed Striga, and the root-associated microbiomes were investigated in this study. The results revealed that knockout of SbCCD8 genes in sorghum significantly reduced orobanchol production and Striga germination. Strigolactone deficiency altered the shoot and root architecture and reduced grain yield of sorghum. The knockout of the SbCCD8b gene significantly affected the rhizosphere bacterial diversity and community composition at sorghum plant grain-fill stage due to the abolition of orobanchol exudation from roots. Reduced amounts of orobanchol in root exudates also influenced root-associated fungal taxa abundance. Our findings provide new insights into potentially sustainable approaches for the recruitment of beneficial microbes and for parasitic weed control through manipulation of strigolactone production in sorghum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhytobiomes Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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