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Main research question/goal

F1-hybrids have been bred from inbreeding lines. They have an estimated potential to increase inulin production in industrial cichory roots by 20%. (This is important because food companies use inulin, a chain of fructose molecules, as a prebiotic dietary fiber in dairy and bakery products, among others. Inulin stimulates the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. And the product is also used as fat replacer or even as an ingredient in the cosmetic sector.) First, this research focuses on the creation of haploids (as intermediary step for homozygous parental lines) after crossing with haploid inducer lines containing a modified CENH3 protein. Second, the research will collect info on the genetic background of CMS (stability). How can we modify the CENH3 protein? What modifications induce haploids? Which molecular differences between wild type and CMS plants can be detected and is there a link with the temperature?

Research approach

We will use CRISPR to modify the CENH3 paralogs in Cichorium intybus. We will use guide RNAs that target one or both paralogs. We will use as well regular plasmid vectors as RNPs for transfection. In addition to CENH3 we will possibly as well target associated proteins such as eg KNL2. Knockdown mutants and knockout mutants complemented with a divergent CENH3 are other possible research strategies. We will make a collection of mutants and screen their haploïd inducing potential. We will study the gene expression in CMS and wild type chicory by comparing them to the annotated chicory genome. Also the influence of a heat shock on the CMS transcriptome will be evaluated this way.


The induction of haploids and a controlled pollination system allow the production of genetically uniorm seed lots with a predictable inuline biosynthesis. To establish an effective parental combination (of 2 homozygous plants) an efficient system to induce haploids is required. Using mutated Cichorium intybus as haploid inducer rather than performing interspecific crosses will probably significantly reduce the incongruity barriers that currently impede the practical application of these techniques.

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

ID: 7516171