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Spontaneous chromosomal rearrangements (CRs) play an essential role in speciation, genome evolution and crop domestication. To be able to use the potential of CRs for breeding, plant chromosome engineering was initiated by fragmenting chromosomes by X-ray irradiation. With the rise of the CRISPR/Cas system, it became possible to induce double-strand breaks (DSBs) in a highly efficient manner at will at any chromosomal position. This has enabled a completely new level of predesigned chromosome engineering. The genetic linkage between specific genes can be broken by inducing chromosomal translocations. Natural inversions, which suppress genetic exchange, can be reverted for breeding. In addition, various approaches for constructing minichromosomes by downsizing regular standard A or supernumerary B chromosomes, which could serve as future vectors in plant biotechnology, have been developed. Recently, a functional synthetic centromere could be constructed. Also, different ways of genome haploidization have been set up, some based on centromere manipulations. In the future, we expect to see even more complex rearrangements, which can be combined with previously developed engineering technologies such as recombinases. Chromosome engineering might help to redefine genetic linkage groups, change the number of chromosomes, stack beneficial genes on mini cargo chromosomes, or set up genetic isolation to avoid outcrossing. © 2023 The Authors New Phytologist © 2023 New Phytologist Foundation.


Holger Puchta, Andreas Houben. Plant chromosome engineering - past, present and future. The New phytologist. 2024 Jan;241(2):541-552

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PMID: 37984056

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