‘Switching off’ genes could speed efforts to breed disease-resistant plants

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Researchers from [the French Agricultural Research Centre CIRAD] recently showed that inactivating a gene, RECQ4, leads to a three-fold increase in recombination in crops such as rice, pea and tomato …. This discovery, published in the journal Nature Plants could speed up plant breeding and development of varieties better suited to specific environmental conditions (disease resistance, adaptation to climate change).

Recombination is a natural mechanism common to all organisms that reproduce sexually …. The chromosome mix determines the genetic diversity of species …. For instance, to obtain a new tomato variety that is both tasty and pest- or disease-resistant, breeders cross and breed …. plants that have the genes involved in taste and resistance. However, this is a lengthy process …. On average, there are just one to three genetic material crossover points between the chromosomes for every cross …. So what is it that limits the number of recombinations?

Related article:  Viewpoint: France's agricultural policies giving rise to 'green totalitarianism'

To find out, researchers ….  studied the genes involved in controlling recombination in a model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. They discovered that one gene, RECQ4, is particularly effective at preventing crossing-over …. inactivating it doubles to quadruples recombination frequency!

Read full, original article: Inactivating genes can boost crop genetic diversity

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