Gene Could Improve Crop Yields

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Sept. 9 (UPI) — A discovery in plant genetics could help scientists develop crops that could grow well in cooler conditions, U.K. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh were part of a study that found a gene known as Spatula limits the growth of plants in lower temperatures to possibly help them survive in cooler weather, a university release said Thursday.

Scientists believe that by manipulating the gene, they might produce the opposite effect — enabling development of crops that grow better as temperatures get cooler.

“We have pinpointed a key gene linked to the growth of plants according to the temperature — this could be of real interest in improving crop yields and food security in temperate climates,” Karen Halliday of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences said.

Being able to improve crop growth under cool conditions — when growth would normally be slow — could help ensure the availability of food supplies for future populations, the researchers say.

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