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Deciphering the eccDNA inheritance with novel plant eccDNA genetic tools


Enhancing plants’ natural innate and immune systems for the generation of primed plants that will better withstand stressors, can be an effective way to reduce losses in crop production. These systems are broadly defined under the plant transgenerational inheritance (TI) of stress memory, which is based on the heritability of attained traits caused by environmental conditions. I propose a new player in plant TI: the extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA). EccDNA is recognized as a major source of genetic variation behind key adaptive traits. I hypothesize that stress-responsive eccDNAs in the soma of a plant can be considered as adaptive toolkits, that can be transferred to the gametes during meiosis, and thus to the progeny. Thus, I have developed an ambitious but feasible plan, to bridge two major gaps in this context: (1) We require innovative technologies to prove causation, so I will develop the first and novel genetic toolbox to study eccDNAs in plants, by targeted circularization driven by the novel CRISPR-C system; (2) We lack knowledge about how eccDNAs are inherited, so I will characterize the transmission of eccDNAs from the soma to the gametophyte in Arabidopsis, through genome-scale (Circle-seq) and cytological analysis (FISH). CirclePLANT offers a unique opportunity for the development of a new line of research, with potentially remarkable impact because it will explore the bases for eccDNA-based technologies that may be useful in crop breeding, ultimately leading to the generation of stable climate-smart crops, which fits with the environmental objectives of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of improving crop yields by applying low-input agricultural practices.


Net EU contribution
€ 214 934,40
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
No data