- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Gene Returned to Ancient Home
12 September 2001 7:00 pm
A long time ago, the ancestors of plants acquired the ability to make their own food, perhaps by engulfing photosynthetic bacteria. Over time, these bacteria evolved into chloroplasts, tiny organelles with their own small genomes; while that small genome remains, many of its original genes slipped into a plant's nucleus. Now, for the first time, researchers have reversed this ancient migration in a tobacco plant. By transferring a gene from the nucleus to its chloroplasts, they may be able to help plants create proteins in greater abundance.
In earlier experiments, researchers transferred genes found in chloroplasts and mitochondria, which also have their own genes, to the plant's nucleus. It's hard to put genes into chloroplasts, but recently researchers have done so with a number of species, including potato, tomato, and tobacco.
Inspired by this work, plant geneticists Archie Portis Jr. and Jack Widholm at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, transplanted a nuclear tobacco gene back to where it was originally found, in the chloroplast. Portis, Widholm, and their colleagues report in the September issue of Plant Physiology that they worked with the gene for a subunit of anthanilate synthesis (AS), a key enzyme in the manufacture of an amino acid called tryptophan. The researchers used a mutant form of the gene that overexpresses itself. So when the AS subunit was produced in 10 times the normal concentration, they knew they'd successfully transplanted the gene. The bumper crop was also maternally heritable, again showing that the gene had been successfully transferred.
The researchers have performed a "cute trick," says Jeffrey Palmer, a geneticist at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. Pal Maliga, a geneticist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, geneticist says that organelle gene transplants will help scientists engineer plants that crank out desirable natural products because it liberates their production from the nucleus' regulatory controls.