Researchers and scientists of genetic engineering have promised to meet the world’s growing demand for food. Unfortunately, they haven’t got much success with boosting crop growth despite the creation of many genetically modified pest and herbicide resistant crops. But now they have succeeded in developing genetically modified corn which gives up to 10% more yield when compared to similar varieties.
This was for the first time that researchers have shown that they can reliably increase corn yield up to 10%. Changing of genes lead to increased plant growth. The plant growth increased regardless of whether growing conditions are poor or optimal.
Background of genetic modification
Corn, Soybean and cotton are most widely planted genetically modified crops in the world. These are created with a few relatively simple genetic tweaks. Scientists added single gene from bacteria certain crop variety. This gave them the ability to make protein that protects them from various insects. These crops can also withstand glyphosate or other herbicides by simple genetic manipulation. This also benefits the farmers to kill weeds without eroding the soil. Genetic modification can also prevent crops during drought. Due to the complex genetics involved in plant growth, it is harder to come up with plant which will yield more grains in good condition.
Development of genetically modified corn
Researchers at Corteva Agriscience, which is a chemical and seed company based in Wilmington, Delaware, worked on a particular gene. That particular gene functions for growth and yield like a master switch. At first, MADS-box genes, a group common in many plants was used. But finally, researchers settled on one (zmm28) to alter in corn plants. The group aimed to fuse zmm28 with a new promoter, a stretch of DNA that controls when gene is activated. They found one gene that worked reliably after trying dozen. Zmm28 usually turns on when plant begin to flower.
Researchers tested enhanced gene’s performance in 48 commercial types of corn which are commonly used to feed livestock. They conducted field tests across the growing regions in US between 2014 and 2017 . The tests showed that yield was 3-5% more as compared to control plants. Some of the plants even showed 8-10% more yield. The genetically yielded plants are more efficient at using nitrogen by 16-18%, which is a key soil nutrient. They also had slightly bigger leaves with 8-9%. This made them more efficient at turning sunlight into sugars.
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B.Tech student at National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management