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Researchers from CIRAD and INRA recently showed that inactivating a gene, RECQ4, leads to a three-fold increase in recombination in crops such as rice, pea and tomato. The gene inhibits the exchange of genetic material via recombination (crossover) during the sexual reproduction process in crops. This discovery, published in the journal Nature Plants on 26 November 2018, could speed up plant breeding and development of varieties better suited to specific environmental conditions (disease resistance, adaptation to climate change).
Recombination is a natural mechanism common to all organisms that reproduce sexually: plants, fungi or animals. The chromosome mix determines the genetic diversity of species. The plant breeding practised for the past ten thousand years, which consists in crossing two plants chosen for their complementary worthwhile characters, centres on that mechanism. For instance, to obtain a new tomato variety that is both tasty and pest- or disease-resistant, breeders cross and breed, via successive recombinations, plants that have the genes involved in taste and resistance. However, this is a lengthy process, as very few recombinations occur during reproduction. On average, there...
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