Plant Science

Adding a Little Bit

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Science  02 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5851, pp. 717
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5851.717f

Age-old plant breeding methods and more recent gene transformation technologies have introduced and fixed genes in order to confer advantageous traits on crops. When a trait depends on one gene, the process is relatively simple as compared to when a trait, such as drought resistance, depends on an entire suite of genes that function together in one or several pathways. Carlson et al. have constructed a mini-chromosome that can be introduced into maize. The autonomous mini-chromosome, which is built around an array of maize centromeric sequences, remains stable through meiosis and mitosis and carries as much as 35 kb of foreign DNA. Minichromosomes might offer a vehicle with which to introduce groups of functionally related genes rapidly while minimizing disruption of the existing genome. — PJH

PloS Genet. 3 e179 (2007).

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