Development of Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes (TILLING) Populations in Small Grain Crops by Ethyl Methanesulfonate Mutagenesis

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes (TILLING) is a powerful reverse genetics tool that includes chemical mutagenesis and detection of sequence variation in target genes. TILLING is a highly valuable functional genomics tool for gene validation, especially in small grains in which transformation-based approaches hold serious limitations. Developing a robust mutagenized population is key to determining the efficiency of a TILLING-based gene validation study. A TILLING population with a low overall mutation frequency indicates that an impractically large population must be screened to find desired mutations, whereas a high mutagen concentration leads to high mortality in the population, leading to an insufficient number of mutagenized individuals. Once an effective population is developed, there are multiple ways to detect mutations in a gene of interest, and the choice of platform depends upon the experimental scale and availability of resources. The Cel-1 assay and agarose gel-based approach for mutant identification is convenient, reproducible, and a less resource-intensive platform. It is advantageous in that it is simple, requiring no computational knowledge, and it is especially suitable for validation of a small number of genes with basic lab equipment. In the present article, described are the methods for development of a good TILLING population, including preparation of the dosage curve, mutagenesis and maintenance of the mutant population, and screening of the mutant population using the PCR-based Cel-1 assay.