We are developing methods to edit sunflower DNA to learn about sunflower biology and improve them as a crop.
Despite ample effort, sunflower has remained recalcitrant to efficient methods for transformation and regeneration through tissue culture that are effective across the breadth of cultivated sunflower diversity. Therefore, to take advantage of emerging technologies, we are making a concerted effort to advance methods for delivery of genome-editing tools in sunflower. Doing so will facilitate our efforts to understand the fundamental mechanisms by which sunflowers respond to seasonal and daily environmental cycles, cope with environmental stresses, and evolved to produce high-yielding disks with large, oil-rich seeds during domestication and crop improvement. The tools developed by this work may also potentiate applications for future crop improvement through the removal of deleterious mutations or enrichment of cultivated sequences with wild sunflower alleles that confer disease, drought, salt, or nutrient stress resistance.
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