A TILLING by sequencing approach to identify induced mutations in sunflower genes

Fanelli, Ngo, Thompson, Silva, Tsai, Sabetta, Montemurro, Comai, and Harmer 2021, Scientific Reports


The Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes (TILLING) technology is a reverse genetic strategy broadly applicable to every kind of genome and represents an attractive tool for functional genomic and agronomic applications. It consists of chemical random mutagenesis followed by high-throughput screening of point mutations in targeted genomic regions. Although multiple methods for mutation discovery in amplicons have been described, next-generation sequencing (NGS) is the tool of choice for mutation detection because it quickly allows for the analysis of a large number of amplicons. The aim of the present work was to screen a previously generated sunflower TILLING population and identify alterations in genes involved in several important and complex physiological processes. Twenty-one candidate sunflower genes were chosen as targets for the screening. The TILLING by sequencing strategy allowed us to identify multiple mutations in selected genes and we subsequently validated 16 mutations in 11 different genes through Sanger sequencing. In addition to addressing challenges posed by outcrossing, our detection and validation of mutations in multiple regulatory loci highlights the importance of this sunflower population as a genetic resource.