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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Unlock the Genetic Secrets of Plant Cell Walls

June 21, 2017

To help improve the quality of plant-based foods, researchers from the University of York and Quadram Institute unlocked the genetic secrets of plant cell walls. Using a microarray, the team analyzed thousands of plant cell samples simultaneously using a microarray, and harvested large amount of data relevant to the arrangement of the cell. They linked this information back to particular changes in genetic information between the different varieties of plant cell, using association mapping.

Dr. Ian Bancroft from the University of York said, "Plant cell walls are made up of sugars, which can be arranged into a myriad of different carbohydrates that determine cell wall properties in subtly different but significant ways." He added that variations in these sugars alter the properties of the plant, including growth and defense against pests and diseases. They also affect the properties of plant products, such as the nutritional quality and usability as biofuel products.

"With a better understanding of the genetic controls of plant cell wall synthesis we can make more effective improvements to support agricultural industries and the bioindustry," he said. The microarray technology helped identify genetic markers in specimens that tended to contain more, or less of a specific component. Breeders identify when the good gene variant is present, and scientists know the likely position and identity of relevant genes through the highlighted markers.

For more, read the research news at the University of York website.