Seed World

Virus-based Vector in Cassava Enables Efficient Protein Expression and Gene Editing

Scientists based in China announced the development of a virus-mediated protein over expression (VOX) virus for cassava, according to a release. This is the first of its kind developed for cassava since the prior option was created through virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS).

The technology can be used for heterologous gene expression and gene editing in cassava. Further studies aim to facilitate functional genomic studies, biotechnology applications, and precision breeding of the crop.

The VOX vector was created through modifying the cassava common mosaic virus (CsCMV)-based VIGS vector. The scientists were able to copy the length of the putative subgenomic promoter of the CsCMV gene. This allowed for an improved heterologous protein expression specifically in cassava plants.
The VOX vector was able to be used to deliver single guide RNAs. These RNAs “targeted two loci of the cassava’s phytoene desaturase gene in Cas-9 overexpressing transgenic cassava lines,” according to the release. This modification allowed for the deleted mutations to be induced which produced the albino cassava phenotypes.

More information on the research can be found in Plant Methods.