Scientific reports

Targeted mutagenesis in the medicinal plant Salvia miltiorrhiza.

PMID 28256553


CRISPR/Cas9 is a powerful genome editing tool that has been extensively used in model plants and crops, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, rice, wheat, and soybean. Here, we report the use of CRISPR/Cas9 to precisely knock out the committed diterpene synthase gene (SmCPS1) involved in tanshinone biosynthesis in Salvia miltiorrhiza, a traditional Chinese medicinal herb with significant pharmacological activities, such as vasorelaxation, protection against ischemia-reperfusion injury, and antiarrhythmic effects. Three homozygous and eight chimeric mutants were obtained from 26 independent transgenic hairy root lines by Agrobacterium rhizogenes-mediated transformation. The metabolomic analysis based on LC-qTOF-MS and Q-TRAP-LC-MS/MS revealed that tanshinones, especially cryptotanshinone, tanshinone IIA and tanshinone I, are completely missing in homozygous mutants, without influencing other phenolic acid metabolites. By contrast, tanshinones are decreased but still detectable in chimeric mutants, which is similar to a previously-reported an RNAi study of SmCPS1. These results demonstrate that Agrobacterium rhizogenes- mediated transformation using CRISPR/Cas9 is a simple and efficient genome editing tool in S. miltiorrhiza, thus paving the way for large-scale genome editing in S. miltiorrhiza, which is important for pathway elucidation of secondary metabolites, quality improvement, and yield increases for this valuable traditional Chinese medicinal herb.