Dissecting the impact of genetic interactions on crop productivity

March 2023

  • Date: Apr 5, 2023
  • Time: 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Sebastian Soyk
  • University Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Location: MPI-MP
  • Room: Seminar Room
  • Host: Duarte Dionísio Figueiredo


Crop breeding relies on combining beneficial gene mutations for improving agricultural traits. However, gene mutations can lead to different effects when introduced into disparate genetic backgrounds. Such unpredictable background effects can be explained by genetic interactions between breeding mutations and genetic variants that differ between backgrounds. However, only few examples of genetic interactions in crops are understood at the molecular level. In this seminar, I will outline approaches to uncover, understand, and utilize genetic interactions that affect shoot and inflorescence architecture in the model crop tomato. In one example, we discovered a domestication mutation that modifies shoot architecture by suppressing a breeding mutation that causes later flowering. We found that the domestication mutation reduced the activity of a conserved floral activator gene and we utilized base editing to repair the mutation and generate compact and early-yielding plants. Our findings suggest that genetic background effects are widespread among domestication and breeding traits. Revealing and understanding similar cases of genetic interactions may allow better strategies for targeted trait improvement using genome editing.

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