Hacking Genes in Plants

Farming has largely been about how well you can manipulate your own crop. Whether it is through the seeds or the way you breed your foliage from one generation to the next. You are able to manipulate a plant’s genes over generations; essentially domesticating the plants. But recently we’ve seen a jump in the way plants have been manipulated, no longer through generations but science instead.

In the newest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a study was released around the chemical and molecule that results in plants shutting down when there is no sunlight. Unlike people, plants completely stop doing anything when there is no sun, they don’t make oxygen, they don’t grow; nothing. But the manipulation of the gene that tells these plants when there is sun or not is just now being discussed so that there may be a way to get plants to keep growing even when there is no sunlight.

The implications of what this information brings to the agricultural world are rather large. This molecule in plants, called the phytochrome, doesn’t just control when a plant notices darkness or light. It also controls when a plant flowers, and when it starts photosynthesis. So of course control over this gene can have some drastic changes to what we can do for farming and plants in general.

Already after this paper is the discussion of underground corn fields, because along with the study was proof that they could create plants that grew and performed photosynthesis even when the sun wasn’t up. All because of the manipulation of this single gene. We can certainly be expecting some drastic changes to the world of botany and plants at large as we delve more into the foliage genomes. Who knows what else we might find?

Source: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/geneticists-are-hacking-plants-so-they-can-grow-in-the-shade