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CRISPR to Turn off Genes in Corn & Rice to Boost Crop Yields, says Researchers

Researchers mapped the genomes of corn and rice, two of the world's most important food crops, and then searched their genomes for genes related to grain yield in this new study.

Shivam Dwivedi
Maize Crop
Maize Crop

Turning off a specific gene in corn and rice can improve crop yields, according to a group of researchers affiliated with a number of Chinese institutions and one in Germany. The team describes mapping the genomes of both plants as a way to search for genes associated with grain yield using CRISPR gene editing to improve yields in test crops in a paper published in the journal Science.

Research Findings:

As the planet warms, scientists around the world are becoming increasingly concerned about farmers' ability to produce enough food to feed an ever-increasing population.

According to previous research, some of the land currently used to grow crops may become less productive. As a result, scientists are looking for new ways to boost crop yields.

Researchers mapped the genomes of corn and rice, two of the world's most important food crops, and then searched their genomes for genes related to grain yield in this new study.

They discovered 490 pairs of genes in both plants that appeared to have similar functions. They were able to narrow the genes down to just two: one from corn and one from rice.

They discovered that they both produced a protein that controlled the number of grains a plant could produce. They then turned off these two genes using the CRISPR gene-editing technique. Then they planted test crops with the edited genes in them and calculated the average yield.

The researchers discovered that the plants with modified genes produced more grains per plant than the control groups when they looked at their yield numbers.

They saw a 10% increase in corn yields and an 8% increase in rice yields. They also looked at the genetically modified plants to see if there were any other changes, particularly those that could affect plant growth but found none.

They claim that their method is a reasonable way to increase crop yields and that the modified plants could be mixed with wild varieties to create new species that are more climate-change resistant.

(Source: Phys Org)

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