Recent findings out of Purdue University have the potential to electrify the field of agricultural genetic engineering. In early March a team led by Stanton Gelvin Ph.D has perfected techniques to modify genetic sequences of plant species previously known to be nearly unalterable by the field’s prevailing method.
Dr. Gelvin’s team uses an intuitive method to build upon the process of modifying the genomes of plants through the use of microorganisms readily available in their natural habitat. Utilization of a bacterium found in common soil, Agrobacterium tumefaciens (also known as Rhizobium radiobacter), an agitator of the plant deforming Crown Gall disease, is at the core of this Purdue team’s research. Modification of this microorganism allows for the DNA injected through common bacterial process to influence positive genetic change rather than crippling infection. By modifying the T-DNA within the normally harmful Agrobacterium, Dr. Gelvin’s lab is now able to infect essential crops once unaffected by this essential technique. Some of these crucial species include corn, wheat and soybeans.
The key to cracking the difficult mystery of Agrobacterium modification relies on facets of genetic particularity within a seemingly simple plant. The Arabidopsis, a cousin of the mustard plant possesses an easily isolated sequence, which delineates a clear susceptibility to the Agrobacterium, and by understanding this the door has opened to allow more accurate integration of synthetic genomes within common agricultural staples.
Proudly, Stanton Gelvin Ph.D.’s lab looks forward to these findings aiding the large scope in struggling farming operations in Purdue’s local Indiana and the Midwest as well as on the smallest scope in cutting edge research institutions around the globe.
Of equal importance to the findings themselves, this breakthrough development from the talented minds of Purdue’s Department of Biological Sciences exemplifies how to balance the extremes concerning future research trends in the burgeoning field of Synthetic Biology. On one hand, academia’s study of the potential behind nature’s genetic structure is driven solely by industrial partners with the motive of eventual commercialization. On the other is pure exploration, led only by the ambition of uncovering the intricacies of the science for the ever-expanding pursuit of knowledge. Without corporate visions and shareholder considerations alone dictating the goals of research, the eventual answers and potential questions encountered during investigation possess the potential to inspire the potential of the science in its entirety, rather than the objectives of a singular firm.
Dr. Gelvin’s and his team at Purdue’s successful quest to abate the challenges of modifying the genomes of plant life defines the pursuit of research for the true benefit of the field as a whole while simultaneously honoring commitments to aid local agricultural business in Indiana. In short, Stanton Gelvin’s program gathers the strengths around both poles of scientific ambition. By effectively discovering an ability to manipulate the genetics of once restrictively challenging plants, these exceptional Boilermakers have all but guaranteed a renewed ease regarding genetic alteration in both academic institutions and corporate laboratories of all types and sizes around the globe.
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