Less toxic cigarettes? ‘Genetic road map’ of tobacco could lead to reduced carcinogen levels

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A new genetic road map of tobacco has been used to successfully identify and clone two mutated genes associated with how efficiently the plants used nitrogen – a discovery that could one day help reduce the need for nitrogen-based fertilizers in growing crops.

These same genes could also play a role in helping to reduce the levels of some carcinogenic compounds in cigarette smoke.

In the case of tobacco, inefficient metabolism of nitrogen by the plant can lead to high concentrations of some nitrogen-based compounds in the leaf, the presence of which lead to the formation of certain tobacco-specific toxicants in smoke.

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The tobacco genome is about 50% larger than a human genome (at about 4Gb). It is also significantly more complicated than the human genome because it is allopolyploid, that is, it arises from the hybridization of different ancestral species….

“Generating this dramatically improved assembly for tobacco is a substantial step forward,” said Chris Proctor, Chief Scientific Officer at British American Tobacco. ‘It will open up several avenues of research that will help scientists gain a greater understanding of the evolution of the tobacco plant to the identification of genes responsible for several traits, whether they be related to improving sustainability of agriculture, reducing the levels of toxicants in tobacco products, or improving the production of pharmaceuticals and biofuels.’

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Smokers, rejoice. A ‘less toxic’ version of tobacco might soon be a reality

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