(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the University of Georgia used CRISPR gene-editing technology to make poplar trees bloom in months, not decades.
This approach will allow you to “create” trees with useful properties much faster. Plant breeding is the cultivation, enhancement, and even creation of desired traits in plants.
This may include an increase in size, appearance, nutritional value, yield, pest resistance, heat, cold, salinity, or drought tolerance.
This usually involves selecting and crossing individual plants with such traits, but this, of course, requires waiting for the plants to mature, which does not happen so quickly with trees.
In a new study, scientists in Georgia turned to the CRISPR gene-editing system to try to speed up the process.
Their target was poplar, a tree that has a long juvenile life and can take seven to 10 years before it begins to bloom. Obviously, this is a long time to check the success of the crossing.
The researchers used CRISPR to turn off a gene called CENTRORADIALIS (CEN), which is known to inhibit flower launch in young poplars. Indeed, edited copies matured much faster.
“By using CRISPR to edit the flowering repressor gene, we were able to reduce the flowering time… to three to four months, and the one-year period of flower organ development to a few days,” says KJ Tsai, co-author of the study.
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