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As a growing population and climate change threaten food security, researchers around the world are working to overcome the challenges that threaten the dietary needs of humans and livestock. A pair of scientists is now making the case that the knowledge and tools exist to facilitate the next agricultural revolution we so desperately need.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Professor Zach Lippman, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, recently teamed up with Yuval Eshed, an expert in plant development at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, to sum up the current and future states of plant science and agriculture.
Review - Science - Cities - Years - Research
Their review, published in Science, cities examples from the last 50 years of biological research and highlights the major genetic mutations and modifications that have fueled past agricultural revolutions. Those include tuning a plant's flowering signals to adjust yield, creating plants that can tolerate more fertilizer or different climates, and introducing hybrid seeds to enhance growth and resist disease.
Beneficial changes like these were first discovered by chance, but modern genomics has revealed that most of them are rooted in two core hormonal systems: Florigen, which controls flowering; and Gibberrellin, which influences stem height.
Lippman - Eshed - Age - Fast - Gene
Lippman and Eshed suggest that in an age of fast and accurate gene editing, the next revolutions do not need to wait for chance discoveries. Instead, by introducing a wide variety of crops to changes in these core systems, the stage can be set to overcome any number of modern-day challenges.
To explain their point, the scientists reviewed research that focused on key moments in agricultural history, such as the Green Revolution.
Wheat - Yield - Plants - Bounty - Wheat
Before the 1960s, fertilizing for a large wheat yield would result in the plants growing too tall. Weighed down with their grainy bounty, the wheat stems would fold and rot away, resulting in yield losses. It was only after Nobel...
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