Rice and potatoes can produce twice as many grains and tubers, and they tolerate harsh conditions like drought better, due to the introduction of a single gene. The botanist does not know this gene, but the animals do. And people too: It’s called FTO and seen as a cause of obesity.
This won’t immediately help global food production, but it’s a breakthrough for science. It comes from a team of Chinese researchers who published it in a professional journal nature biotechnology for clarification. This hack is cool because FTO doesn’t interfere directly with DNA, the living cell’s recipe book, but on related RNA, which brings recipes into the kitchen.
What a gin does depends not only on the recipe, but also on the zeal with which he transmits. This enthusiasm was heightened by the FTO. This has serious consequences for obesity, but when the Chinese introduced an animal variant of this gene to rice plants, they saw mainly positive results: a stronger plant with more roots, better resistance, and 50 percent more yield. Surprised by the result, they took the potato plants and got the same result.
This is the genetic modification for which strict rules apply, certainly in Europe. But Chinese scientists hope that, now that they understand how the mechanism works, they can also achieve the effect through the genetic mechanism of the plant itself.
Breakthrough in yeast thanks to Delft research
They wouldn’t call it a revolution. But Delft researchers are opening a whole new chapter in biotechnology.