URI researchers help isolate gene to increase crop production

URI researchers help isolate gene to increase crop production
URI researchers help isolate gene to increase crop production | Courtesy of Shutterstock
Researchers from the University of Rhode Island, in cooperation with researchers from Yale University and the Max Planck Institute, recently announced their discovery of a gene that could lead to hybrid seeds that would significantly increase crop production.

“Controlling sex determination in plants is essential to making hybrid plants,” URI Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology Albert Kausch, who led the URI team with Professor Emeritus John Mottinger, said. “Hybrid crop plants are healthier and increase yields per acre. As world population increases, we’re going to need to double our food production in the next 50 years, and hybrid plant production is one way we can do that.”

Hybrid corn seeds have been easy to create as the male and female parts of the plant are separated in the ear and the tassel. With other plans, it has been more difficult and expensive to create hybrids that increase their production.

The researchers were able to isolate the key gene that, when expressed, triggers flowers to become female in maize.

“If we could separate them in wheat or rice or sorghum, then we could increase the amount of grain we produce per acre,” Kausch said. “It took many years of effort to figure it out, but now we can.”

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University of Rhode Island

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