Abstract Background Precision plant genome engineering holds much promise for targeted improvement of crop traits via unprecedented single-base level control over the genetic material. Strigolactones (SLs) are a key determinant of plant architecture, known for their role in inhibiting shoot branching (tillering). Results We used CRISPR/Cas9 in rice (Oryza sativa) for targeted disruption of CAROTENOID CLEAVAGE DIOXYGENASE 7 (CCD7), which controls a key step in SL biosynthesis. The ccd7 mutants exhibited a striking increase in tillering, combined with a reduced height, which could be rescued by application of the synthetic SL analog GR24. Striga germination assays and liquid chromatographyâ mass spectrometry analysis showed that root exudates of ccd7 mutants were also SL deficient. Conclusions Taken together, our results show the potential and feasibility of the use of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for targeted engineering of plant architecture and for elucidating the molecular underpinnings of architecture-related traits.
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