Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Technique For Modifying Plant Genes Developed

Date:
May 4, 2009
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
Researchers have used a genome engineering tool they developed to make a model crop plant herbicide-resistant without significant changes to its DNA. The new tool could help provide sustainable food, fuel and fiber.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Massachusetts General Hospital have used a genome engineering tool they developed to make a model crop plant herbicide-resistant without significant changes to its DNA.

Related Articles


"It's still a GMO [Genetically Modified Organism] but the modification was subtle," said Daniel Voytas, lead author and director of the U of M Center for Genome Engineering. "We made a slight change in the sequence of the plant's own DNA rather than adding foreign DNA."

The new approach has the potential to help scientists modify plants to produce food, fuel and fiber sustainably while minimizing concerns about genetically modified organisms

For the study, the researchers created a customized enzyme called a zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) to change single genes in tobacco plant cells. The altered cells were then cultured to produce mature plants that survived exposure to herbicides.

The research will be published online by Nature on April 29.

"This is the first real advance in technology to genetically modify plants since foreign DNA was introduced into plant chromosomes in the early 1980s," Voytas said. "It could become a revolutionary tool for manipulating plant, animal and human genomes."

Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) are engineered enzymes that bind to specific DNA sequences and introduce modifications at or near the binding site. The standard way to genetically modify an organism is to introduce foreign genes into a genome without knowing where they will be incorporated. The random nature of the standard method has given rise to concerns about potential health and environmental hazards of genetically modified organisms.

Voytas is a co-founder of the Zinc Finger Consortium, which developed a do-it-yourself strategy for academic researchers. The consortium is led by co-author J. Keith Joung, a pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard University. The consortium published its method (called Oligomerized Pool Engineering, or OPEN) in the July 2008 issue of Molecular Cell. Nature published a perspective feature on OPEN and a commercial strategy in September 2008.

Voytas' lab used ZFNs created by the OPEN method to modify the tobacco cells to make them herbicide resistant. According to Voytas, OPEN ZFNs can be used to improve the nutrition of crop plants, make plants more amenable to conversion into biofuels, and help plants adapt to climate change.

"The world is going to turn increasingly to plants to solve lots of problems. Now we have a new set of tools to help." Voytas said.

Voytas' next steps will be to apply the technology to Arabidopsis thaliana, a model plant, and rice, the world's most important food crop. He is also adapting algae for biofuel production.

"The technology is ready for prime time," Voytas said. "There is no scientific reason it can't be applied to crop plants now to improve agricultural output and practices."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jeffrey A. Townsend, David A. Wright, Ronnie J. Winfrey, Fengli Fu, Morgan L. Maeder, J. Keith Joung & Daniel F. Voytas. High-frequency modification of plant genes using engineered zinc-finger nucleases. Nature, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nature07845

Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "New Technique For Modifying Plant Genes Developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090429132233.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2009, May 4). New Technique For Modifying Plant Genes Developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090429132233.htm
University of Minnesota. "New Technique For Modifying Plant Genes Developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090429132233.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins