News FocusGenetics

Surgically Altering Plant Genes

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Science  16 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5426, pp. 317
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5426.317

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Plant researchers now have a potential shortcut to their goal of producing mutations that might improve crop plants: a new technique called chimeraplasty, in which short lengths of synthetic DNA and RNA are used to trick cells into changing single bases in their genomes. Unlike the standard genetic engineering approach, which has come under fire, particularly in Europe, partly because it involves permanent introduction of foreign DNAs into plants, chimeraplasty should allow researchers to specifically mutate whatever gene they want--without leaving any foreign DNA behind.