Transforming, Genome Editing and Phenotyping the Nitrogen-Fixing Tropical Cannabaceae Tree Parasponia andersonii

This article has been accepted and is currently in production

Abstract

Parasponia andersonii is a fast-growing tropical tree that belongs to the Cannabis family (Cannabaceae). Together with 4 additional species, it forms the only known non-legume lineage able to establish a nitrogen-fixing nodule symbiosis with rhizobium. Comparative studies between legumes and P. andersonii could provide valuable insight into the genetic networks underlying root nodule formation. To facilitate comparative studies, we recently sequenced the P. andersonii genome and established Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated stable transformation and CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing. Here, we provide a detailed description of the transformation and genome editing procedures developed for P. andersonii. In addition, we describe procedures for the seed germination and characterization of symbiotic phenotypes. Using this protocol, stable transgenic mutant lines can be generated in a period of 2-3 months. Vegetative in vitro propagation of T0 transgenic lines allows phenotyping experiments to be initiated at 4 months after A. tumefaciens co-cultivation. Therefore, this protocol takes only marginally longer than the transient Agrobacterium rhizogenes-based root transformation method available for P. andersonii, though offers several clear advantages. Together, the procedures described here permit P. andersonii to be used as a research model for studies aimed at understanding symbiotic associations as well as potentially other aspects of the biology of this tropical tree.