Barley (Hordeum vulgare L) grain is comparatively rich in (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan, a source of fermentable dietary fibre that protects against various human health conditions. However, low grain (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan content is preferred for brewing and distilling. We took a reverse genetics approach, using CRISPR/Cas9 to generate mutations in members of the Cellulose synthase-like (Csl) gene superfamily that encode known (HvCslF6 and HvCslH1) and putative (HvCslF3 and HvCslF9) (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan synthases. Resultant mutations ranged from single amino acid (aa) substitutions to frameshift mutations causing premature stop codons, and led to specific differences in grain morphology, composition and (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan content. (1,3;1,4)-β-Glucan was absent in the grain of cslf6 knock-out lines whereas cslf9 knock-out lines had similar (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan content to WT. However, cslf9 mutants showed changes in the abundance of other cell wall-related monosaccharides compared to WT. Thousand grain weight (TGW), grain length, width and surface area were altered in cslf6 knock-outs and to a lesser extent TGW in cslf9 knock-outs. cslf3 and cslh1 mutants had no effect on grain (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan content. Our data indicate that multiple members of the CslF/H family fulfil important functions during grain development but, with the exception of HvCslF6, do not impact the abundance of (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan in mature grain.
- cell walls
- gene editing