A group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University, and Guizhou University have manipulated RNA in a way that increased drought tolerance in plants and also allowed them to produce over double the amount of crops. These scientists added the FTO protein to both rice and potato plants. The FTO protein is the first of its kind to erase chemical marks on RNA. Researchers had already come across the phenomenon of this protein's effect on RNA as they had observed this increased cell growth in humans and animals.
Adding the FTO protein to the plants resulted in increased rates of photosynthesis, larger plants, longer root systems, and more drought-tolerant crops. While this may be beneficial to food production, the FTO gene is also responsible for the increased risk of obesity. While there is a downside to this experiment, there are significant upsides as well. First and foremost, many parts of the world continue to suffer hunger challenges, a climate change crisis, among other pressures. Increased crop production can prove to be incredibly beneficial to the ecosystem. We as humans use plants for just about anything and everything: food, medicine, oil, and much more. Not only can this discovery address the food insecurity crisis, but it addresses issues of poverty as well.
With the global population increasing each year, we must continue to make scientific advancements to address global issues such as climate change, hunger, and poverty.
Article Link: https://news.uchicago.edu/story/rna-breakthrough-crops-grow-50-percent-more-potatoes-rice-climate-change
Related Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906751/