Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 11:30am
Jason Thomas, Ph.D. Candidate
University of Minnesota Twin-Cities, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
Genes involved in nectar production and flower development with application to the biofuel cover crop Field Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense)
Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) is an overwintering oilseed cover crop with several ecosystem services that is being rapidly domesticated. It has competitive oilseed yields and can be potentially used for jet fuel, biodiesel, animal feed, and human consumption. Additionally, pennycress flowers produce nectar at a time with very few nutritional resources available for pollinators (late April- early May). Pollinators are crucial in worldwide fruit and vegetable production and pollinator populations have been declining in the last few decades. To better nourish pollinating insects, both CRISPR/Cas9 and EMS mutagenesis has given rise to multiple pennycress lines with traits beneficial to pollinators by causing mutations in genes likely regulate flowers size, petal color, and nectar production. Arabidopsis CWINV4, SWEET9, PLOOP, and MNC1 are canonical representatives of genes involved in nectar production; DA1 and BB, are involved in flower size; and ARF8, and OPR3 influence both nectar production and flower size; and lastly, CCD4 is linked to scent and petal color. In Arabidopsis mutants, microscopy was used to measure flower size and enzymatic sugar assays to were used to determine changes in the amount of nectar. T1 CRISPR/Cas9 mutants and EMS mutants have been identified and are currently being phenotyped.