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Top Lectures: Holger Puchta

Thursday 11 March 2021
Kaltura Live Room

Be welcome at the Top Lectures from the Institute Biology Leiden! Twice a month researchers at the IBL invite (inter)national speakers to give a masterclass to students and hold a public accessible lecture for a general audience. The lecture will be held online in Kaltura.

The programme is as follows:

  • 15.00 - Top Lecture 
  • 16.00 - Discussion with MSc students
  • 17.00 - End

Your host for this edition is Dr Sylvia de Pater. She has invited Prof Dr Holger Puchta from the Botanical Institute at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, Germany to give the Top Lecture. The topic is:

Applying CRISPR/Cas in plants: From gene editing to chromosome engineering

Up to now, the CRISPR/Cas technology has been applied in plants mainly on genes for the elucidation of their function or the improvement of traits. This can be achieved by using one of the two general pathways of double strand beak repair non homologous end joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination. Now we show for the first time, that the technology can also be utilized to restructure plant chromosomes. Using egg-cell specific expression of SaCas9 nuclease we were able to induce NHEJ-mediated heritable translocations in the Mb range between heterologous chromosomes in Arabidopsis thaliana. By molecular and cytological analysis, we could confirm that the chromosome arm exchanges we obtained between chromosomes 1 and 2 as well as 1 and 5 are conservative and reciprocal. Recent improvements in sequence analysis of crop plants reveal that multi Mb long inversions occur with high frequency between different genotypes, leading to crossover suppression. Therefore, we set out to revert the 1.1 Mb long heterochromatic knob (hk4S) inversion on chromosome 4 of the accession Arabidopsis Col-0. If a knob carrying accession like Col-0 is crossed with a knob-less accession like Ler-1 meiotic recombination is completely suppressed within the inverted region. Crossing Col-0 with the rearranged chromosome 4 with Ler-1, we were able to target meiotic crossovers into a region that was inaccessible for genetic exchange before. Thus, via the directed induction of chromosomal inversions and translocations, novel possibilities to reshape recombination landscapes arise. The technology can be used for fixing or breaking genetic linkages between traits as well as for mimicking genome evolution or control specification. The controlled restructuring of plant chromosomes has the potential to revolutionize plant breeding.

How to join

The lecture will take place in Kaltura Live Room via https://smart.newrow.com/#/room/uhb-534.

The discussion at 16.00 is accessible only for MSc students who have registered beforehand via uSis/Brightspace.

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