Crop plants have always been adapted to the needs of man by breeding for them to carry more fruit, survive droughts, or resist pests. Green biotechnology now adds new tools to the classical breeding methods for a more rapid and efficient improvement of plant properties.
Thale cress blossom: Common thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) is used as a model plant in many biotechnology experiments. (Photo: H. Puchta/ KIT)
A biotechnological technique developed by KIT botanists to more precisely and reliably install or modify genetic information in the plant genome is now presented by the expert journal PNAS. (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1202191109).The new method is based on the natural repair mechanism of plants. So-called homologous recombination repairs the genome when the genome strands in the cell break. “Using an appropriate enzyme, i.e. molecular scissors, we first make a cut at the right point in the genome and then supply the necessary patch to repair this cut,” says Friedrich Fauser from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, who is the first author of the PNAS publication. “A part of this patch is the new gene piece we want to install. The rest is done by the repair service of the cell.”
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