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Main research question/goal

F1 hybrids in agricultural crops are the result of a cross between two homozygous lines, usually inbreeding. In previous research we have demonstrated that F1 industrial chicory hybrids have the potential to produce 20% more inulin in the roots than traditional cultivars. This is relevant as inulin, a chain of fructose molecules, is used as a prebiotic dietary fiber in dairy and bakery products, among others. Inulin is also use as fat replacer or even as an ingredient in the cosmetic sector. To extract more inulin per root, we aim to develop a production method for F1 hybrids. This research therefore first focuses on the creation of haploids (as intermediary step for homozygous parental lines) after crossing with haploid inducer lines containing a modified CENH3 protein. A second goal of this project is to investigate the genetic basis of CMS (stability) in industrial chicory. 

Research approach

We use CRISPR to modify CENH3 genes in Cichorium intybus using guide RNAs that target one or both CENH3 paralogs. Through two types of methods (based on either classical vectors, or RNPs or ribonucleoproteins) we try to create knockdown mutants and knockout mutants complemented with a functional but aberrant CENH3. We build up a collection of mutants. Through crossbreeding we investigate their haploid-inducing potential. Finally, we investigate the differential gene expression between CMS and wild-type chicory.


The induction of haploids and a controlled pollination system based on CMS are essential steps for the production of genetically uniform seed lots with predictable inuline content. This research will deliver useful methodologies for F1 production in chicory.

Effective start/end date1/10/1930/09/23

ID: 7516171