Chinese scientists find natural selection loophole that could help transform food security

Victoria Bela,  South China Morning Post,  2024.

Scientists in China have found a way to bypass natural plant gene inheritance, by using a CRISPR-based gene editing system to boost the transmission of preferred genes even when they are detrimental to a plant. By harnessing a system that uses both a toxin and an antidote to target the male plant germline, the scientists were able to overcome the natural Mendelian transmission rate, achieving gene transmission rates of up to 99 per cent over two generations.

“Facing diverse challenges such as threats to food security from agricultural weeds and the environmental crisis of invasive plants, the genetic manipulation of wild plant populations has emerged as a potentially powerful and transformative strategy,” the team wrote in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Plants on Monday.