Neofunctionalisation of the Sli gene leads to self-compatibility and facilitates precision breeding in potato

Eggers, Ernst Jan; Burgt, Ate van der; Heusden, Sjaak A.W. van; Vries, Michiel E. de; Visser, Richard G.F.; Bachem, Christian W.B.; Lindhout, Pim


Genetic gain in potato is hampered by the heterozygous tetraploid genome of cultivated potato. Converting potato into a diploid inbred-line based F1-hybrid crop provides a promising route towards increased genetic gain. The introduction of a dominant S-locus inhibitor (Sli) gene into diploid potato germplasm allows efficient generation of self-fertilized seeds and thus the development of potato inbred lines. Little is known about the structure and function of the Sli locus. Here we describe the mapping of Sli to a 12.6 kb interval on chromosome 12 using a recombinant screen approach. One of two candidate genes present in this interval shows a unique sequence that is exclusively present in self-compatible lines. We describe an expression vector that converts self-incompatible genotypes into self-compatible and a CRISPR-Cas9 vector that converts SC genotypes into SI. The Sli gene encodes an F-box protein that is specifically expressed in pollen from self-compatible plants. A 533 bp insertion in the promotor of that gene leads to a gain of function mutation, which overcomes self-pollen rejection.