VIB and UGent scientists develop process to predict plant size
Flemish and Italian researchers have discovered a technique that will help accelerate the plant breeding process and develop resistance to disease
Plant scientist Joke Baute and colleagues from the Italian Institute of Life Sciences in Pisa conducted a study into the set of all RNA molecules of the cell division zone in corn seedling leaves. The scientists linked a specific set of RNA molecules to external properties, which are not expressed until much later in the growth process, such as final leaf size and biomass production.
“These new insights will help us accelerate the plant breeding process,” said VIB/UGent scientist Dirk Inzé. “In the long term, breeders will be able to select the most useful plants at a very early stage, which will considerably speed up breeding programmes.”
It currently takes a long time to develop new strains of plants with a greater yield or greater resistance to disease. Breeding products must be manually infected to determine whether they are disease-resistant and corn plants must first produce ears before their yield can be determined. By choosing plants on the basis of genetic data, this selection process can be made more efficient. The technique can help increase agricultural productivity without harming natural ecosystems.
Photo courtesy VIB
Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB)
institute was founded