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Plant Sciences

New ways to develop new crops

The genetic modification of plants has been a concern with the public in terms of its safety. Observations over the last 10 years over much of the world suggest that initial fears may have been exaggerated, however, improving our understanding of and control over the GM process will help lower the risks further. Work in the Molecular Plant Science Laboratory seeks to develop new ways of introducing genes into plants, in particular developing methods that allow the elimination of antibiotic resistance genes which have been the focus of some concern. Alternative approaches involve either identifying genetic markers of desired traits to direct breeding programmes or the development of physiological probes of fitness.

A transgenic tobacco plant, showing pale sectors resulting from spontaneous loss of an extra-nuclear gene. This work is developing new methods for more precise genetic modifications of plants. See Kode et al (2006) for details