System to control plant production through gene silencing

A team of CSIC researchers has developed a system that would allow controlling the production and performance of a plant crop through a fine regulation of the degree of silencing of a gene of interest. Modulating gene silencing can help control the flowering times of a crop.

Modulating gene silencing can help control the flowering times of a crop. Image: PixaBay.The mechanism uses small artificial RNAs (single chain molecules with non-coding genetic sequences involved in the regulation of gene expression) to obtain gene silencing to the desired degree, in an effective way.

This would regulate the expression of vital genes or of any gene that interferes with processes related to productivity. A specific case is the modulation of the FT gene, a suppressor of the flowering process. Its degree of silencing could be modulated with the new artificial RNA system (sRNAs), hence controlling when a crop blooms.

“The product could be released throughout the year or at times when it is unavailable”, says Alberto Carbonell, at the Institute for Plant Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMCP) in Valencia, about the possibilities of the development.

Gene silencing is not a transgenic modification of the plant, as there is no interaction or incorporation of genes from other organisms.

The scientist points out that the system could also help control resistance to abiotic stressors such as drought or salinity. The technology could be applied to any plant or crop, including those of agronomic interest.


Josep Calaforra Guzman
Vicepresidencia Adjunta de Transferencia del Conocimiento
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Tel.: 96 362 27 54
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