Saturday, April 10, 2010

Theoretically Positive, Realistically Questionable

An amazing discovery about gene manipulation to turn off the sexual reproduction of various plants. How will these experiments turn out? Will this endanger our food supply? or Will this discovery be just what is needed to cut out the monopoly on hardy seed supplies?
clipped from
Asexual Plant Reproduction May Seed New Approach for Agriculture
Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering mustard plant, normally reproduces sexually. But Jean Philippe Vielle-Calzada and his colleagues have show that silencing a protein called Argonaute 9 causes the plant to begin reproducing asexually instead. The blue shading shows the area involved in gamete formation that is disrupted when Argonaute 9 is silenced.
his problem is sidestepped by some plants—such as dandelions and poplar trees—that reproduce asexually by essentially cloning themselves. Jean-Philippe Vielle-Calzada, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholar, wondered whether he could learn enough about the genetics of asexual reproduction to apply it to plants that produce sexually. In an advance online publication in Nature on March 7, 2010, Vielle-Calzada and his colleagues report that they have moved a step closer to turning sexually-reproducing plants into asexual reproducers,
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