Categories: Daily Food & Agriculture DigestCrops & FoodSustainability / GreenGenes

‘Major breakthrough’: Genetic modification of single gene could reduce crops’ water use by 25 percent

| | March 8, 2018

Researchers on Tuesday [March 6] unveiled a genetic modification that enables plants to use a quarter less water with scant reduction in yield.

By altering a single gene, scientists coaxed tobacco plants — a model crop often used in experiments — to grow to near normal size with only 75 percent of the water they usually require.

If major food crops respond the same way, they said, the first-of-its-kind genetic “hack” could help feed the growing population of an increasingly water-starved world.

“This is a major breakthrough,” said senior author Stephen Long, a professor at the Institute of plant biology at the University of Illinois.

“When water is limited, these modified plants will grow faster and yield more.”

Long and his team tweaked the gene that codes a protein — known as PsbS — crucial to photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light into nutrients.

PsbS plays a key role in relaying information about the quantity of daylight, which triggers the opening and closing of microscopic leaf pores called stomata.

In the genetically engineered plants, increased levels of PsbS caused the tiny leaf pores to close earlier than they normally would, allowing the plant to retain more precious liquid.

Editor’s note: Read the full study

Read full, original post: Genetic tweak makes plants use 25% less water

Articles written by GLP cite ‘Genetic Literacy Project’ as the source. All others are aggregated and excerpted from the original source to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis.
Published by
Paul McDivitt

Recent Articles

Searching for life in the universe: ‘We humans are probably not special’

The "exoplanet" revolution of the last 20 years has shown us that the universe is awash in alien worlds. More…

8 hours ago

Video: How genetics is revolutionizing medicine and disease research

This three-part series of documentary shorts, produced by Retro Report in partnership with STAT, looks back at the roots of three of…

8 hours ago

South Korean protesters demand labeling of GMO foods

Hundreds of farmers, consumers and environmental activists gathered in front of the Government Complex in Seoul [April 10] to demand…

8 hours ago

Podcast: Geneticist George Church on the future of synthetic biology

George Church's Harvard lab is one of the most celebrated fonts of innovation in the world of life sciences. George's…

8 hours ago

Viewpoint: Anti-biotech activists don’t understand the difference between GMOs and CRISPR crops

CRISPR-Cas9 may genetically modify a crop, but it doesn’t necessarily result in a genetically modified organism, the dreaded GMO. To…

9 hours ago

Scientists are skeptical of regenerative agriculture’s ‘extraordinary claims’

What is regenerative agriculture? Why is it different from sustainable agriculture? And how do I reconcile what practitioners of this system…

9 hours ago

Estonia launches genetic-testing program for 8% of its population

The Estonian government is to collect the DNA of 100,000 citizens to provide them with personalised health and lifestyle advice.…

9 hours ago

How non-coding ‘junk’ DNA can influence cancer growth

Most of the human genome — 98 percent — is made up of DNA but doesn’t actually encode genes, the…

9 hours ago

Why FDA’s proposed gene-editing regulations could stifle CRISPR research on food animals

A 2017 draft Food and Drug Administration guidance proposes mandatory, multigenerational premarket new animal drug evaluation of all “intentional genomic…

9 hours ago

Male birth control? Here are 3 methods headed our way

While a pill for men certainly isn’t coming to the pharmacy anytime soon, unfortunately, there is reason for (muted) hope.…

9 hours ago

Wheat gene discovery could give breeders new tool to boost crop yields

A new study has isolated a gene controlling shape and size of spikelets in wheat in a breakthrough which could help breeders…

9 hours ago

How ‘number crunching’ and big data has transformed the study of fossils, evolution

The field of paleobiology has advanced paleontology by using big data to analyze the history of life

9 hours ago

CRISPR paired with DNA barcoding could track cancer growth

Stanford scientists have found a way to modify pairs of cancer-related genes in the lungs of mice and then precisely…

1 day ago