Biologist's research could lead to more resilient crops

phys.org | 2/14/2019 | Staff
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UCLA biologist Steve Jacobsen's research has the potential to have a significant impact on the improvement of crops.

Jacobsen, who is a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, specializes in plant epigenetics—the study of how a gene's function can change without changes to the DNA sequence—and his research could lead to more resilient crops.

Science - Applications - Areas - Agriculture - Jacobsen

"Epigenetic science has many applications, with one of the most promising areas being agriculture," said Jacobsen, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Jacobsen is also scientific co-founder of the company Inari, which has licensed plant breeding patents he developed at UCLA.

Inari is a plant-breeding company that equips crops to be more resilient to climate change, and is enhancing plant breeding by tapping natural genetic diversity. Decades of intensive breeding for desirable characteristics, such as higher yield or resistance to specific diseases, has increased our food supply, but has also led to genetic uniformity in many crops. In some cases, this means the loss of natural resistance to disease compared with their more genetically diverse wild relatives. This loss could leave our food supply vulnerable to future stressors, including those induced by climate change, at a time when the global population is projected to see considerable growth. Inari is working to discover and re-introduce these genes, so crops can exhibit natural resilience while meeting the nutritional demands of a growing worldwide population. The company has introduced the world's first seed foundry as part of its mission to revolutionize the seed industry.

Agreement - Inari - Ways - Plant - Performance

The agreement provides Inari with new ways to improve plant performance by tapping natural genetic diversity, and provides access to technology that influences a plant's genes without altering its genetic code.

"Discoveries that take place in our laboratories directly help solve global issues, and the fragility...
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