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New analyses of cassava brown streak virus genome sequences may hasten dev of disease-free cassava

October 9th, 2015 / PLOS One

Cassava brown streak disease is caused by two devastating viruses, Cassava brown streak virus and Ugandan cassava brown streak virus, which frequently infecting one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most important staple food crops. In this new research, 12 new whole genomes were uncovered, doubling the genomic sequences available in the public …

Resistance to GM comes from people who have not known hunger

September 21st, 2015 / El País, Spain

“Scientists must engage more with the public. The problem with GM food is that the public is not aware that for centuries have been doing genetic modification, albeit very random way: crossing different strains or, for many years, with mutagenesis [generating mutations] crops and subsequent selection of the most …

How plant sensors detect pathogens

August 26th, 2015 / Erika Alert, AAAS, US

An international team of scientists describes precisely how a plant senses a pathogen, bringing an unprecedented level of detail to Flor’s model. “We know that plants have sensors to detect pathogens but we knew little about how they work,” says Professor Banfield from the John Innes Centre (UK). See …

Genetic sprays that don’t modify a plant’s genome might bring benefits with less controversy

August 17th, 2015 / MIT Technology Review

The cells of plants and animals carry their instructions in the form of DNA. To make a protein, the sequence of genetic letters in each gene gets copied into matching strands of RNA, which then float out of the nucleus to guide the protein-making machinery of the cell. RNA …

Lock and key for potential control of GMOs

June 17th, 2015 / UC Berkeley, US

UC Berkeley researchers have developed an easy way to put bacteria under a molecular lock and key in order to contain its accidental spread. The method involves a series of genetic mutations that render the microbe inactive unless the right molecule is added to enable its viability. “This approach is …

CRISPR: a powerful gene-editing technology with huge potential

June 4th, 2015 / Nature, UK

CRISPR, a powerful gene-editing technology is the biggest game changer to hit biology since PCR. But with its huge potential come pressing concerns. CRISPR’s ability to precisely edit existing DNA sequences makes for more-accurate modifications, but it also makes it more difficult for regulators and farmers to identify a modified …

Saving coffee from extinction

May 24th, 2015 / BBC.co.uk

“Richer countries buy it, roast it and drink it, but have not paid for the agronomy. Only now is the industry waking up and seeing the need for it. The coffee industry has realised no-one else is doing it – it’s going to have to be us,” says Dr …

Using crop genetic resources to help agriculture adapt to climate change

May 11th, 2015 / USDA Report

Climate change poses significant risks to future crop productivity as temperatures rise, rainfall patterns become more variable, and pest and disease pressures increase. The use of crop genetic resources to develop varieties more tolerant to rapidly changing environmental conditions will be an important part of agricultural adaptation to climate change. …

Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food

May 7th, 2015 / TED.com

Pamela Ronald studies the genes that make plants more resistant to disease and stress. In this eye-opening talk, she describes her decade-long quest to help create a variety of rice that can survive prolonged flooding. She shows how the genetic improvement of seeds saved the Hawaiian papaya crop in the …

GMOs: it’s the trait, not the method, that’s important

May 5th, 2015 / The Conversation, UK

Many people have strong opinions about genetically modified plants, also known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs. But sometimes there’s confusion around what it means to be a GMO. It also may be much more sensible to judge a plant by its specific traits rather than the way it was …

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