Sunday, 21 August 2011

New Technique For Modifying Plant Genes Developed

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Massachusetts General Hospital used a tool for genome engineering who developed the model to make a crop resistant to herbicides, without significant changes in its DNA.

"It 's always a GMO(genetically modified organisms), but the change was subtle," said Daniel Voyta, lead author and director of U of M Center for genome engineering. "We made a small change in the DNA sequence of the plant instead of adding foreign DNA."

The new approach has the potential to help scientists to modify plants to produce food, fuel and fiber in a sustainable manner, minimizing concerns about genetically modified organisms

For the study, the researchers have created a custom enzyme called zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) to modify a single gene in the cells of tobacco plants. The modified cells were then cultured to produce mature plants that survived exposure to herbicides.

The research is published online by Nature on April 29.

"This is the first real advance in technology to genetically modify plants to the foreign DNA was introduced into the chromosomes of plants in the early 1980's," said Voyta. "It could become a revolutionary tool for the manipulation of plants, animals and the human genome."

Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) were designed enzymes that bind to specific DNA sequences and to make changes in or near the binding site. The standard method for genetically modifying an organism is to introduce foreign genes in a genome without knowing where they will be integrated. The randomness of the standard method resulted in concerns about potential health and environmental risks of genetically modified organisms.

Voyta is co-founder of the zinc finger Consortium, which has developed a strategy of do-it-yourself for academic researchers. The consortium is led by co-author J. Keith Joung, a pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor at Harvard University. The consortium has published his method (called Pool Engineering oligomerized, or open) in July 2008 in the journal Molecular Cell. Nature published an article on the view and open a business strategy in September 2008.

Laboratory Voyta 'ZFNs created by the open method used to modify the tobacco cells to make them resistant to herbicides. According Voyta, open ZFNs can be used to improve the nutrition of crops, plants are more favorable for conversion into biofuels, and help plants adapt to climate change.

"The world becomes more and more plants to solve many problems. Now we have a new set of tools to help you." Voyta said.

Voyta next steps "will be to apply the technology in Arabidopsis thaliana, a model plant, and rice, the world's most important food crops. It 'also the adaptation of algae to produce biofuels.

"The technology is ready for prime time," said Voyta. "There is no scientific reason can not be applied to plants grown today to improve agricultural production and practices."

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Living well beyond 100

Popular culture, as reflected in movies, fashion, and literature, is preoccupied with remaining young. A growing anti-aging industry offers myriad products and services to tap into the elusive fountain of youth, with plenty of hucksters and charlatans preying on our dreams. The quest for youth has been with us since antiquity. King Gilgamesh, who ruled parts of Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C., searched for immortality after a close friend died. To accomplish this divine goal,
he had to become a half-god, according to Babylonian legend. The first historical record of a treatment to reverse aging is an Egyptian papyrus dated around 1600 B.C. that describes an ointment for regaining youth (without evidence of success or a money-back guarantee). Youth concoctions are still produced and consumed daily, but thus far, the real fountain of youth has come from science and medicine.