In prokaryotes, CRISPR/Cas9 system provides molecular immunity to bacteria and archaea against invading phages, conjugative plasmids and nucleic acids. CRISPR/Cas9 system has been adapted for targeted genome editing across diverse eukaryotic species for a variety of applications in basic and applied research. In this dissertation, I propose to adapt the CRISPR/Cas9 system to function as molecular immunity machinery against plant DNA viruses. Therefore, to test whether the CRISPR/Cas9 system is portable to plants, I produced plants stably over-expressing Cas9 and sgRNAs against single or multiple DNA viruses in Nicotiana benthamiana (N. benthamiana) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants. sgRNAs targeting the Cas9 endonuclease against different coding and non-coding viral sequences were tested in virus- interference experiments. I explored the possibility of generating robust interference against single and multiple DNA viruses. Subsequently, I studied the possibility of virus evasion of the CRISPR/Cas9 machinery and evolution of the virus escapees. Finally, I produced N. benthamaiana and tomato plants stably expressing the CRISPR/Cas9 machinery for developing durable virus resistance. Furthermore, developing effective viral-interference system in plants will help to understand the molecular underpinning of virus biology and host-defense mechanisms against plant viruses.
In conclusion, my research project attempted to establish the efficacy and extend the utility of CRISPR/Cas9 system for viral interference in plants which promise exciting applications including producing engineered plants resistant to multiple viral infection.
|Date of Award||May 2018|
- Biological, Environmental Science and Engineering
|Supervisor||Magdy Mahfouz (Supervisor)|