Researchers Develop New Method to Improve Crops

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Researchers develop a new method to breed plants with better traits, according to a study conducted on March 6, 2018.

Different varieties of crops capable of withstanding drought or disease can be created using this new method. This technique is already being tested on maize, soy, and rice by researchers. It is possible to breed diverse plants using this new method known as epimutagenesis. In traditional breeding, getting an individual that has all of the characteristics you want and none of the characteristics that you don’t want is very difficult. Advantage of the new technique is that a new set of genes from another parent need not be introduced into the plant.

When researchers were studying about DNA methylation, this new method was developed. DNA methylation silenced many genes and to turn these genes on, a human enzyme was introduced into the plant seedlings with the help of a specially modified bacteria. Researchers were able to remove DNA methylation by introducing these enzymes and the data they looked upon helped to proceed with their experiments. This was important in the beginning of the study, as they were not sure about the new technique.

William Jordan, a doctoral student in genetics said, “Thousands of years ago you’d plant out hundreds of plants and one of them does really well so you’d breed out generations of that plant. Doing this though, you narrow down the genetic diversity until they’re basically very, very similar.” This new method can be used for biotechnology applications.

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