Plant science : an international journal of experimental plant biology

Genome editing as a tool to achieve the crop ideotype and de novo domestication of wild relatives: Case study in tomato.

PMID 28167025


The ideotype is a theoretical model of an archetypal cultivated plant. Recent progress in genome editing is aiding the pursuit of this ideal in crop breeding. Breeding is relatively straightforward when the traits in question are monogenic in nature and show Mendelian inheritance. Conversely, traits with a diffuse, polygenic basis such as abiotic stress resistance are more difficult to harness. In recent years, many genes have been identified that are important for plant domestication and act by increasing yield, grain or fruit size or altering plant architecture. Here, we propose that (a) key monogenic traits whose physiology has been unveiled can be molecularly tailored to achieve the ideotype; and (b) wild relatives of crops harboring polygenic stress resistance genes or other traits of interest could be de novo domesticated by manipulating monogenic yield-related traits through state-of-the-art gene editing techniques. An overview of the genomic and physiological challenges in the world's main staple crops is provided. We focus on tomato and its wild Solanum (section Lycopersicon) relatives as a suitable model for molecular design in the pursuit of the ideotype for elite cultivars and to test de novo domestication of wild relatives.