Sorghum genetic modification increases yield

March 3, 2018 |

In New York, a simple genetic modification can triple the grain number of sorghum, which is used for food, animal feed, and biofuel. Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory figured out a genetic change boosts the plant’s yield: by lowering the level of a key hormone, generating more flowers and more seeds. Their discovery points toward a strategy for significantly increasing the yield of other grain crops.

Now that the team has uncovered the biological changes that triple sorghum’s grain production, they hope to apply the same strategy to increase grain production in related plants that are vital in the global food supply, such as rice, corn, and wheat. The knowledge will help guide crop improvement through traditional breeding practices as well as approaches that take advantage of genome editing technologies, according to Doreen Ware, Ph.D., a CSHL Adjunct Associate Professor and research scientist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) who led the research.

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