Dramatic breakthrough for improving some plants via GM

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DEyncourt
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Dramatic breakthrough for improving some plants via GM

Post by DEyncourt »

"Scientists Have 'Hacked Photosynthesis' In Search Of More Productive Crops".

This is complicated so bear with me.

There are three methods of photosynthesis: CAM (which we will ignore for now), C3, and C4. C3 is used by around 90% of all plants while C4 is used by around 5% (the numbers I've seen were very squishy).

C4 plants like corn and sugarcane have considerable advantages over C3 plants. Both use a huge protein with a longer name so it has been nicknamed Rubisco. In C4 plants Rubisco is protected so that it can take CO2 from air and eventually produce plant sugars. C3 plants lack that protection so instead of the sites on Rubisco getting CO2 it sometimes will get oxygen molecules which Rubisco will make into toxic chemicals. There is considerable plant energy wasted removing such chemicals.

Reseachers working for the USDA have been working with C3-based tobacco plants because they are easier to work with. Through gene manipulation they were able to shut down tobacco's process to remove the toxic chemicals, then replace it with a more efficient method for removing them. The result were plants that "grew faster, and they grew up to 40 percent bigger" than regular tobacco plants.

To be sure: they are still uncertain if that additional growth will also produce more fruit and seeds as well as more leaves and bigger stalks. Even with that latter limitation it should still be useful in many plants.

They are attempting to replicate this for other C3 plants that are staple crops around the world like black-eyes peas.
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Post by obvs »

Black-eyed peas are a staple crop around the world?

Dear God. Those things are awful.
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Post by ukimalefu »

obvs wrote: Black-eyed peas are a staple crop around the world?

Dear God. Those things are awful.


I don't think those specifically, but peas in general? yes. Peas are good source of protein from plants. I like most kinds of peas I've tried.
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obvs
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Post by obvs »

Oh, I like peas. I used to bring them to work and eat a can of them for lunch.

But blackeyed peas must taste like Satan's dingleberries.
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Post by DEyncourt »

Looking up some history and other details on Wikipedia:

Black-eyed peas probably originated in West Africa though were probably spread by humans throughout the temperate and equatorial parts of the Old World. Its range was extended to the New World through some slave ships getting cheap African seeds to feed slaves, being first introduced to the US in Virginia in the 17th century (thus likewise to other slave plantations around the New World).

Black-eyed peas are very drought-resistant which gives them an advantage over other staples like wheat and rice. The crop has relatively few pests and disease. It is also a nitrogen-fixer so can help to re-enrich soil, enabling farmers to alternate with other food crops through crop rotation.
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Post by DukeofNuke »

intellectual/hipster/nihilist

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Post by obvs »

Right. Sure. But they used to make us eat those every New Year's Day as part of a superstition.

I don't know if you've ever eaten them, but they're awful.
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Post by user »

they do have a certain texture, but I would imagine that most of the new year's peas were cooked by people who didn't have much idea on how to do it well and didn't care that much
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Post by DEyncourt »

We are also talking about regions like sub-Saharan Africa which simply do not have any other choices for food crops.
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Post by Old Yoda »

[I read the Topic Title to mean that GM(General Motors) had a breakthrough to improve (auto) plants]
Unlimited Growth is the Ideology of a Cancer Cell
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Post by Betonhaus »

Old Yoda wrote: [I read the Topic Title to mean that GM(General Motors) had a breakthrough to improve (auto) plants]
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Post by dv »

Old Yoda wrote: [I read the Topic Title to mean that GM(General Motors) had a breakthrough to improve (auto) plants]
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Post by obvs »

Old Yoda wrote: [I read the Topic Title to mean that GM(General Motors) had a breakthrough to improve (auto) plants]
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Post by TOS »

i thought you were talking about black-eyed susans

i was all like, "how can flowers be a global crop?"
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obvs
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Post by obvs »

You've never had black-eyed peas before?

Count yourself lucky.
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Post by Warin »

You must have gotten some poorly prepared ones, because I had some as a side with BBQ in Charleston, and they were quite tasty.
I'm sorry Dave...
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obvs
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Post by obvs »

I ate black-eyed peas every New Year's Day for the first ~25 years of my life, and a few other times, and they were godawful every time.

Maybe black-eyed peas just aren't for me.
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Post by DEyncourt »

Perhaps so. Hard to say considering how personal taste is.

obvs, you are in the DC area, yes? Surely you could ask around for some recommendations for soul food restaurants. Maybe not go whole hog and get everything with black-eyed peas, but maybe ask for a dish recommendation from the waiter/cook?

On the other hand, you are in the US with its wide abundance of just cuisines. No sin if you choose just to avoid anything using black-eyed peas.
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Post by DEyncourt »

Anyway: no comments how this technique is employing considerable genetic modifications?

I am assuming since CRISPR was never mentioned that that particular method was not used.
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Post by Kirk »

I remain a bit skeptical they can genetically modify normal crop plants this extensively and have it work properly in the end. Still, if it works, it'll be wonderful.
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Post by DEyncourt »

I must admit some skepticism myself since I was unaware that anyone could do the level of genetic engineering claimed, but I am by no means an expert watching every paper that comes across.

And, of course, even if they were successful with tobacco plants, this doesn't mean they can apply the same methods to other C3 plants to likewise improve other plants.

Still hoping....
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