CRISPR-edited crops with better ‘ventilation systems’ could withstand climate change

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As the world heats up, plants face a dilemma — the same tiny holes they have to open to exchange gases also let out water. They can close the holes, called stomata, to stay hydrated in hotter, drier conditions but, in doing so, may miss out on critical carbon dioxide.

The question for …. Stanford University [researchers] is how this dilemma will play out as increasing portions of the world’s plants experience consistently warmer, drier environments …. The answer …. suggests opportunities for engineering plants to withstand climate change ….

In a paper published Sept. 6 in Developmental Cell, the researchers worked out which hormone in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana coordinates the number of stomata the plant produces. What’s more, they tweaked the levels of that hormone in the plant — using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology — to get an idea of the extent to which this hormone can increase or decrease the presence of stomata.

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Related article:  CRISPR used to fight virus hiding inside banana genome

The researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to precisely alter single genes in their plants to increase and decrease the cytokinin levels. This technology is very promising to be able to make directed small changes to improve plants’ ability to withstand climate change, said the researchers.

Read full, original article: How a hormone helps plants build leaves’ ventilation system

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