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Plant Genomics

Transcriptomic Profiling of Pearl Millet for Salinity Stress Response

In an article which discussed the exploration of the ‘orphan crop’ pearl millet, Amibka Dudhate concluded that photosynthesis, plant hormone signal transduction, and mitogen-activated protein kinase signalling pathways are significantly activated on the advent of drought stress in pearl millet. Her colleague, Harshraj Shinde, expands on these findings.

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The Long Shadow of the European Ruling on New Breeding Technologies

Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that gene-edited crops are equivalent to transgenic GMOs. The court ruling came as a surprise because it negates a preliminary opinion that was issued by the court’s Advocate General Michael Bobek in January 2018. This reactionary ECJ ruling might become the final nail in the coffin of the European Agbiotech sector and many scientists, including myself, are concerned that it will discourage the use of genome editing in agriculture.

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Novel Photosynthesis Technology – the Solution to the Global Food Security Crisis?

Ensuring global food security

The human population is increasing, which means that we need to improve crop productivity to maintain food security. Over the last century, plant breeding and modern agriculture have made large gains in productivity. However, this growth is not keeping pace with demand. If plant photosynthesis could be improved, this would provide breeders with a new tool to increase crop yields. This has been a major research focus over the last 20 years and significant progress has been made in understanding this process. However, crops with improved photosynthesis have yet to be successfully commercialised.

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Gaining Public Confidence in Genetically Modified Products

Despite the fact that GMs have been around for over thirty years, they still ignite debate. We spoke to Professor Jim Dunwell, University of Reading, at the 6th Plant Genomics & Gene Editing Congress: Europe to discuss the steps that should be taken to gain the public’s confidence.

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Regulatory aspects of gene-edited crops: A Q&A with Jim Dunwell

On January 2018, Michal Bobek, in a preliminary judgement in a case at the European Court of Justice, advised that “organisms obtained by mutagenesis” should not be seen as genetically modified, unless they contained recombinant nuclear acid molecules or other GM organisms. [1]

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The Future of Plant Gene Editing: A Q&A with Professor Richard Visser

We were delighted to welcome Richard Visser, Professor, Chair and Head of Plant Breeding, Dean of Research, Wageningen University & Research, to the 6th Plant Genomics and Gene Editing Congress, where he presented on the use of novel breeding techniques in practical breeding.

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Using Machine Learning to Assign Gene Ontology

It is a quite common phenomenon in biology: we have identified a gene or a set of genes that are likely to be important for the system we are studying, but we have no clear explanation for why they are important or how they influence the system. For example, in plant genomics, we are often interested in a specific trait and have a genomic locus or a list of candidate genes that might affect this trait. The question is: how can we prioritise these genes in order to proceed to experimental validation?

To this end, it would be extremely useful if we knew the functions of our candidate genes. For instance, if a gene codes for an enzyme, what type of reaction does this enzyme catalyse? And in which pathways might this reaction take place?

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To regulate or not to regulate: Current legal status for gene-edited crops

Gene editing is the latest and sexiest DNA editing tool in the continuum of plant breeding innovations. With genetically modified organism (GMO) technology, scientists introduce “foreign” genes, i.e. genes from a different organism, into crops. With gene editing, scientists create additional genetic variation by making precise changes to the existing crop’s genome. It offers great opportunities, but also creates regulatory challenges.

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