From Cocoa CRISPR to Artificial Plant Cells
CRISPR is the latest “tool” in the plant molecular biology “toolbox”, and it’s being applied to many crops, including cocoa trees, as we saw in May 2018.
Other plant science news from last May included reports of new information regarding plant interactions with other organisms, such as fungi and insects. Also, we learned that, not surprisingly, plant biomass exceeds that of other living organisms and that scientists are creating light-driven artificial cells.
- GMO Chocolate?: “Use of the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 could help to breed cacao trees that exhibit desirable traits such as enhanced resistance to diseases, according to Penn State plant scientists.”
Cocoa CRISPR: Gene editing shows promise for improving the ‘chocolate tree’
- Plant-Fungus “Meet and Greet”?: “Unseen to most of us, almost all plants form below-ground interactions with beneficial soil microbes. One of the most important of these partnerships is an interaction between plant roots and a type of soil fungi called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.”
Plant relationships breakdown when they meet new ‘fungi’
- “Happy” Plants, “Happy” Insects?: “Inhibiting the production of the ‘happiness’ hormone – serotonin – in rice plants, increases their resistance to two of the world’s most destructive and costly insect pests, new research has shown.”
Breakthrough in the search for insect-resistant plants
- Heavy Plants?: “Plants pack more heft than any other kingdom of life on the planet, making up 80% of all the carbon stored in living creatures. That’s just one surprise in a comprehensive new survey of Earth’s biomass, which finds that groups with the greatest number of species—such as arthropods—aren’t necessarily the heaviest.”
Plants outweigh all other life on Earth
- Designer Plants?: “Researchers engineered a cell-like structure that harnesses photosynthesis to perform designer reactions”
A photosynthetic engine for artificial cells
Next-Up: From camouflaged plants to “padlocked” genes in plants….
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