Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A new method to genetically modify grains

People have always had a love-hate relationship with GMOs or genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified plants, also known as transgenic plants, have a change in their genome that would not happen naturally if it wasn't selected for or placed inside the organism, due to artificial selection.  When it comes to food, the topic is even more controversial.  Plants that are consumed in large amounts within the country are usually genetically modified to allow for better results.
In the past, a method using Agrobacterium was common among transgenic grains. The tissue of the plant would be inserted with Agrobacterium which would transfer the DNA to it's host (the plant). This tissue would then be spread throughout the entire plant.  Unfortunately, this technique could only be used in certain grains. 
A new approach to genetically modifying plants has been found.  Researchers combined morphogenic genes and genes that were chosen for genetic modification in grains.  
When they did so, transformation rates increased for a large number of maize cultivators-- in many cases going from essentially no transformation to rates high enough for efficient use in commercial and research applications. 

This technique can be conducted in multiple species of plants including sorghum, rice, and sugarcane. Transgenic plants is a very controversial topic, but I believe that for some species it is necessary. Humans have a very high consumption rate for some plants, many being grain, and mass production is needed to stay consistent with these rates.  Transgenic plants allow for more product to be gathered and more variations of a plant to be obtained.  This new technique could prove to be very beneficial to our population.


  1. Wow Julia this is a really great article and is very interesting. Would this method be successful with every type of plant species or a selected few? Because I do believe that GMO's will help the human population and if this method can modify every type of plant/ food source, it can be very beneficial for the human population.

  2. I agree that it can be very helpful Cara. So far it seems like this method was only applied to grains, but with a few experiments I am sure that it could be applied to other plants too. This method was actually pretty simple with just combining two science techniques, so if more research is done, more methods similar to this could be found.