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Crop Biotech Update

Nourishing Gene in Plants for Improvement of Seed Productivity

January 20, 2012

Scientists at the University of Warwick, University of Oxford, and Biogemma (an agri-biotech research company) have discovered a "nourishing gene" labeled as Meg1 which controls the amount of nutrients transferring from mother to offspring in maize plants. Meg1 is only expressed in maternal chromosomes, which is a similar with the uniparental expression of human genes involved the development of the placenta to regulate the supply of maternal nutrients during fetal growth. This new discovery implies that scientists can use the gene to increase seed size and productivity especially in major crop plants.

Dr. Jose Gutierrez-Marcos, Associate Professor in the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences, said: "These findings have significant implications for global agriculture and food security, as scientists now have the molecular know-how to manipulate this gene by traditional plant breeding or through other methods to improve seed traits, such as increased seed biomass yield…To meet the demands of the world's growing population in years to come, scientists and breeders must work together to safeguard and increase agricultural production."

For more details, visit http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/discovery_of_plant/.