Lessons from Domestication: Targeting Cis-Regulatory Elements for Crop Improvement

Trends Plant Sci. 2016 Jun;21(6):506-515. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.01.014. Epub 2016 Feb 12.


Domestication of wild plant species has provided us with crops that serve our human nutritional needs. Advanced DNA sequencing has propelled the unveiling of underlying genetic changes associated with domestication. Interestingly, many changes reside in cis-regulatory elements (CREs) that control the expression of an unmodified coding sequence. Sequence variation in CREs can impact gene expression levels, but also developmental timing and tissue specificity of expression. When genes are involved in multiple pathways or active in several organs and developmental stages CRE modifications are favored in contrast to mutations in coding regions, due to the lack of detrimental pleiotropic effects. Therefore, learning from domestication, we propose that CREs are interesting targets for genome editing to create new alleles for plant breeding.

Keywords: CRISPR; microRNA; new breeding techniques; non-coding; pleiotropy; transcription factor.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics*
  • Domestication*
  • Gene Editing / methods
  • Gene Editing / trends
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Phenotype
  • Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional / physiology*