About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Artificial Chromosome Could Help Boost Food Production

by Medindia Content Team on October 22, 2007 at 11:18 AM
Font : A-A+

Artificial Chromosome Could Help Boost Food Production

An artificial chromosome for corn plants. The breakthrough could speed up efforts to produce fuels and medicines from plants as well as boosting crop nutrition and yield, say Chicago-based researchers. Chromatin Inc. and the Universities of Chicago and North Carolina are collaborating in the research.

"This appears to be the tool that agricultural scientists and farmers have long dreamed of," said Daphne Preuss, a University of Chicago professor of molecular genetics and Chromatin's president.

Advertisement

Preuss said that adding a chromosome to a plant's genetic makeup is more useful to scientists than adding individual genes one at a time, as is the way most genetic engineering is done now.

When a single gene is added to a plant its placement tends to be random, so many plants must be used to get a few that use the new gene to acquire a trait, such as better tolerance for drought. Often, a plant needs two or three new genes to acquire drought resistance, Preuss said, which is difficult to achieve using today's technology.
Advertisement

An artificial chromosome can carry several desired genes and be inserted in a targeted location in a plant, she said, giving scientists the power to imbue plants with desired traits much more quickly and reliably than has been possible before.

Earlier this year Monsanto Co. signed a non-exclusive agreement to use Chromatin's technology and Chromatin has been in discussions with several other agribusiness firms, expecting to conclude similar agreements.

The corn results "will make Monsanto very pleased, I'm sure," said Michael Hogg, a Chicago attorney who specializes in biotech matters.

"This is a very big deal," said Ron Meeusen, a biotech veteran who heads an Indianapolis biotech venture capital fund.

"We have a ceiling in what we can do with crops. If you want to insert one, two or three genes, that is doable. But if you need more genes than that to make the next improvement, it starts to get much tougher," he said

"Many traits in crops might need seven, 12 or 15 genes, and we cannot do that today. Putting them in individually is like trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again. Chromatin has opened the ceiling on what we can do.

"They've demonstrated this isn't just a lab curiosity. It can actually be used," he said.

Preuss developed the artificial chromosome technique when doing academic studies of weeds but much development work was needed to adapt the technology to corn. Chromatin researchers are working to adapt their techniques to other plants, including switch grass and sugar cane, seeking to help researchers make those crops more productive when they are converted to ethanol fuels.

Chromatin's techniques may also be adapted for creating plants that yield therapeutic products. Making drugs from plants is a young field, but some commercial biotech operations have products in development.

A Canadian firm, SemBioSys Genetics Inc., seeks to use safflower plants to produce insulin, and Biolex Inc. in North Carolina is working to produce monoclonal antibodies from aquatic plants.

Many varieties of soybeans, corn and other cash crops have resulted from genetic manipulation that has been under way for a generation.

Food crops in particular have stirred some opposition from people who believe that such manipulation is dangerous. European activists opposed to "Frankenfoods" have successfully retarded embrace of genetically modified crops in much of the world.

Chromatin's technology is intended to give scientists tools to make their work more targeted and efficient.

"It is subject to the same regulation as any genetic manipulation," she said. "No matter how you put a gene into a plant, it is all regulated. Government agencies look at varieties produced by our partners and investigate the safety. This isn't a way to avoid that. We insist that the plants are properly examined."

Successful implantation of the artificial chromosomes, which researchers call "mini-chromosomes," will be published in the journal PLoS-Genetics.

Source: Medindia
GPL/V
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 - Fighting for Rights in the Post-COVID Era
Effect of Blood Group Type on COVID-19 Risk and Severity
Woman with Rare Spinal Cord Defect from Birth Sues Doctor
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Birth Defect - Genetic Metabolic Defects Why Do We Eat - Nutrition Facts Diet Lifestyle and Heart Disease Hunger Fullness and Weight Control Label Lingo on Food Items: Decoded Top Diet Foods that Make you Fat Top Food for Dieters Selenium - Natural Source Better than Supplements Fahr´s Syndrome 

Recommended Reading
Entirely New Life Form for the First Time: A DNA Research Breakthrough
Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher's discovery will lead to alternative energy sources ....
New Research Reveals Genetic Make-up of Giardia
The scientific journal, Science, has presented the results of a research on the genetics and ......
Birth Defect - Genetic
Achondroplasia is a genetic disorder which is one of the leading causes of dwarfism ...
Fahr´s Syndrome
Fahr''s syndrome is a rare, neurological disorder first described by Karl Theodor Fahr, a German neu...
Hunger Fullness and Weight Control
An erratic way of eating or any metabolic disturbance in the hunger fullness signals is one of the m...
Label Lingo on Food Items: Decoded
Read on to become a “pro” in “label reading” and don’t get tricked by fancy promotions of food produ...
Metabolic Defects
Metabolism is the sum total of all chemical and physical changes that take place in any organism tha...
Selenium - Natural Source Better than Supplements
Selenium is a powerful anti-oxidant that prevents cell damage and helps in thyroid hormone productio...
Top Diet Foods that Make you Fat
Every nutrition fad comes with its share of diet foods. While they seem healthy, many diet foods pro...
Top Food for Dieters
A diet food contains protein, fiber and good fats, which help in weight management. Diet foods if co...
Why Do We Eat - Nutrition Facts
The importance of eating food and the physiological, psychological and social functions of food....

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use