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Food, drink and medicine breakthrough seeded

Food, drink and medicine breakthrough seeded

Image: Korea-Barley-01.jpg.  Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Worldwide production of food, beverages and medicinal plants could become cheaper and more reliable using information from a germination breakthrough by Australian researchers including La Trobe University, and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at La Trobe University and The University of Western Australia.

Growers of seeds, such as of rice for food, barley for beer and poppies for codeine, would benefit greatly from having control over when they germinate, and the new research has begun to decipher how a crop’s genome can control the time that a seed wakes up.

With the knowledge gained from this research, the researchers hope to perfect the genome-editing technology necessary to produce new plant cultivars that germinate differently, giving farmers the ability to precisely control when their crops are ready for harvest.

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Dr Reena Narsai from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at La Trobe University, is excited about the opportunities that could arise from this research in coming years.

“Our next move is to transfer our findings from the model research plant Arabidopsis into crop plants such as barley and rice. New cultivars of plants that germinate as growers want would be permanently modified so that, when those plants are propagated, their seeds and the offspring from those would all have the new behaviour. We will look to generate varieties that have accelerated or slowed-down germination and will study how they control the genetic switches that turn this off and on,” said Dr Narsai.

Media issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.

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