[T]he war over GM crops, though intense, has so far been restricted to a small number of battlefields – corn, soybean, tomatoes and canola, for instance – due to the limited list of plant species scientists have been able to successfully modify.
Now the stage may be set for a massive expansion in the theatres of conflict. A team of mostly Chinese scientists has announced a new technique, called pollen magnetofection, which they say overcomes the obstacles of traditional plant-transformation methods and clears the way to genetically modify “almost all crops”.
Almost all current GM methods involve regenerating a new plant from a single transformed cell using complicated in vitro culture processes. The alternative approach taken by Xiang Zhao, of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, and colleagues is to first manipulate the DNA of pollen, then use this pollen to fertilise a plant’s ovary and directly generate transgenic seeds.
The team details its methods in the journal Nature Plants.
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