An easier way to engineer plants

Monday, February 25, 2019 - 11:20 in Biology & Nature

MIT researchers have developed a new genetic tool that could make it easier to engineer plants that can survive drought or resist fungal infections. Their technique, which uses nanoparticles to deliver genes into the chloroplasts of plant cells, works with many different plant species, including spinach and other vegetables. This new strategy could help plant biologists to overcome the difficulties involved in genetically modifying plants, which is now a complex, time-consuming process that has to be customized to the specific plant species that is being altered. “This is a universal mechanism that works across plant species,” says Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, about the new method. Strano and Nam-Hai Chua, the deputy chair of the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory at the National University of Singapore and a professor emeritus at Rockefeller University, are the senior authors of the study, which appears in the Feb. 25 issue...

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