Revolutionary hybrid plant clones could cut costs for farmers

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Plant biologists at the University of California, Davis, have discovered a way to make crop plants replicate through seeds as clones. The discovery …. could make it easier to propagate high-yielding …. crops and make them available to the world’s farmers.

The ability to produce a clone …. of a plant from its seeds would be a major breakthrough for world agriculture. Instead of purchasing expensive hybrid seeds each year …. farmers could replant seeds from their own hybrid plants and derive the benefits of high yields year after year.

[The Researchers] discovered that the rice gene BBM1 …. is expressed in sperm cells but not in eggs. After fertilization, BBM1 is expressed in the fertilized cell but — at least initially — this expression comes from the male contribution to the genome. BBM1, they reasoned, switches on the ability of a fertilized egg to form an embryo.

Related article:  Can we 'build' a better banana with genetic engineering?

The researchers first used gene editing to prevent the plants from going through meiosis, a type of cell division that results in four daughter cells each with half the number of chromosomes of the parent cell. Instead, the egg cells form by mitosis, inheriting a full set of chromosomes from the mother.

Then they caused these egg cells to express BBM1, which they would not normally do without fertilization …. The approach should work in …. other crop plants as well ….

Read full, original article: Rice Plants That Reproduce as Clones From Seed

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