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Dissecting the labdane-related diterpenoid biosynthetic gene clusters in rice reveals directional cross-cluster phytotoxicity
New Phytologist  (IF10.151),  Pub Date : 2021-10-16, DOI: 10.1111/nph.17806
Riqing Li, Juan Zhang, Zhaohu Li, Reuben J. Peters, Bing Yang

  • Rice (Oryza sativa) is a staple food crop and serves as a model cereal plant. It contains two biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) for the production of labdane-related diterpenoids (LRDs), which serve important roles in combating biotic and abiotic stress. While plant BGCs have been subject to genetic analyses, these analyses have been largely confined to the investigation of single genes.
  • CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing was used to precisely remove each of these BGCs, as well as simultaneously knock out both BGCs.
  • Deletion of the BGC from chromosome 2 (c2BGC), which is associated with phytocassane biosynthesis, but not that from chromosome 4 (c4BGC), which is associated with momilactone biosynthesis, led to a lesion mimic phenotype. This phenotype is dependent on two closely related genes encoding cytochrome P450 (CYP) mono-oxygenases, CYP76M7 and CYP76M8, from the c2BGC. However, rather than being redundant, CYP76M7 has been associated with the production of phytocassanes, whereas CYP76M8 is associated with momilactone biosynthesis. Intriguingly, the lesion mimic phenotype is not present in a line with both BGCs deleted.
  • These results reveal directional cross-cluster phytotoxicity, presumably arising from the accumulation of LRD intermediates dependent on the c4BGC in the absence of CYP76M7 and CYP76M8, further highlighting their interdependent evolution and the selective pressures driving BGC assembly.