Gene editing and mutagenesis reveal inter-cultivar differences and additivity in the contribution of TaGW2 homoeologues to grain size and weight in wheat.

CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing and EMS mutagenesis revealed inter-cultivar differences and additivity in the contribution of TaGW2 homoeologues to grain size and weight in wheat. The TaGW2 gene homoeologues have been reported to be negative regulators of grain size (GS) and thousand grain weight (TGW) in wheat. However, the contribution of each homoeologue to trait variation among different wheat cultivars is not well documented. We used the CRISPR-Cas9 system and TILLING to mutagenize each homoeologous gene copy in cultivars Bobwhite and Paragon, respectively. Plants carrying single-copy nonsense mutations in different genomes showed different levels of GS/TGW increase, with TGW increasing by an average of 5.5% (edited lines) and 5.3% (TILLING mutants). In any combination, the double homoeologue mutants showed higher phenotypic effects than the respective single-genome mutants. The double mutants had on average 12.1% (edited) and 10.5% (TILLING) higher TGW with respect to wild-type lines. The highest increase in GS and TGW was shown for triple mutants of both cultivars, with increases in 16.3% (edited) and 20.7% (TILLING) in TGW. The additive effects of the TaGW2 homoeologues were also demonstrated by the negative correlation between the functional gene copy number and GS/TGW in Bobwhite mutants and an F2 population. The highest single-genome increases in GS and TGW in Paragon and Bobwhite were obtained by mutations in the B and D genomes, respectively. These inter-cultivar differences in the phenotypic effects between the TaGW2 gene homoeologues coincide with inter-cultivar differences in the homoeologue expression levels. These results indicate that GS/TGW variation in wheat can be modulated by the dosage of homoeologous genes with inter-cultivar differences in the magnitude of the individual homoeologue effects.