The main gene makes the crop genetically identical to the mother plant

Wageningen researchers, along with colleagues in Japan and New Zealand, have discovered a gene that allows flowers to form embryos in the uterus of plants without pollination.

This discovery of this important gene makes it possible to produce seeds for crops that are genetically similar to the mother plant in the future. The findings were published by Dutch research firm KeyGene and Wageningen University in New Zealand and researchers at the Research and Japanese Breeding Institute Takii and Lincoln University in New Zealand. Science Journal Nature Genetics.

After a genetically controlled parthenogenesis process, the discovered gene was renamed PAR. Egg cells develop into plant embryos without pollination. The researchers hope that this finding will lead to important discoveries in plant breeding in the years to come.

Apomixis Holy Grail

The production of seeds that are genetically similar to the mother plant is called apomixis. According to Wageningen scientists, this phenomenon is seen as the holy grail in agriculture. This makes it possible to simultaneously capture the unique, superior properties of a plant. So Apomixis can accelerate the reproduction of innovative crops and make seed production cheaper.

The importance of apomixis for agriculture has long been recognized, but until now it has not been used successfully in breeding. Fifteen years ago, a team of researchers from the Wageningen research firm KeyGene began to clarify the genetics behind apomixis.

In their research on aphrodisiacs, geese researchers used dandelions, a plant species that produces seeds with the same genetic characteristics of the mother plant without pollination. The PAR gene, found in dandelions, ensures that egg cells develop into a plant embryo without pollination.

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Eggs grow without pollination

The team led by Wageningen University & the biology head of research was also involved in the research. The staff of this chair group found that the PAR gene is generally inactivated in egg cells. The egg then splits, forming a plant embryo. So the egg is thought to be fertile and begins to divide without pollination.

The next question is whether the new knowledge of the PAR gene and apomics from dandelion can be applied to other crops. Many plants without apomixis have been found to contain genes similar to the dandelion PAR gene. Researchers at Geezin, along with scientists from Tokyo, have already succeeded in proving that the PAR gene can also cause parthenogenesis in spinach and sunflower.

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