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China with a breakthrough in the wheat genome

Китай с пробив в генома на пшеницата

Chinese scientists have developed wheat with higher yields for bread production, according to a research paper published in the latest issue of the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Using CRISPR-CAS9 genome editing and by identifying molecular mechanisms that influence grain development, researchers from several institutions in China increased the length and mass of wheat, the paper said. China is the largest producer of wheat in the world.

The researchers found that TabHLH489, a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, was associated with crop grain length. The results showed that the action of TabHLH489 increased grain length and weight, while its overexpression had the opposite effect. The team also identified that the regulatory module TaSnRK1α1-TabHLH489 uses steroid and sugar signaling to control grain length.

After many years of research, the sequencing of the bread wheat genome, which is more than five times the size of the human genome and more complex, was completed in 2018. Wheat is the most widely grown food grain in the world, as production and consumption are projected to reach nearly 800 million tons in the 2023-24 marketing year, according to the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service.

The Chinese government has made food security a top priority in recent years. In addition to the use of gene editing to increase wheat yields, it is being commercialized, similar to the widespread production of genetically modified corn and soybeans, to reduce dependence on imports of these agricultural commodities.

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