They Use Plant Genome Map To Increase Food Production In Crops
ITHACA, N.Y. -- With a burgeoning world population and fewer places to grow food, Cornell University scientists have begun to locate high-production genes from wild plants to put into domesticated, edible crop plants -- thus boosting food production worldwide, according to their report in the journal Science.
"We are fortunate to be living at a time when genetic modification holds much promise for improving crop performance," said Susan R. McCouch, Cornell assistant professor of plant breeding. "However, most of the advances in molecular genetics have been directed toward traits other than yield, largely because of the complexity of this trait." McCouch and Steven D. Tanksley, Cornell's Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Breeding and Biometry, have co-authored the article on how they have learned to increase production of certain plants by using wild genes, "Seed Banks and Molecular Maps: Unlocking Genetic Potential from the Wild," in Science, (Aug. 22, 1997).
While examining wild rice and tomatoes, McCouch, Tanksley and their colleagues have systematically used molecular markers to map genes of rice and tomato plant varieties and looked for specific loci or genes -- known as the Quantitative Trait Locus, or QTL -- that would tend to boost production. Before the availability of molecular markers, breeders had no way of finding the genes from the wild species because there was no way to identify the functions of genes controlling complex (or quantitative) traits in any species.
The researchers have genetically mapped rice and made the information available through the rice genes database over the World Wide Web at http://probe.nalusda.gov:8300/ so anyone can use that mapping data to boost rice production in their area of the globe. Al
Contact: Blaine Friedlander
Cornell University News Service