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October 3rd, 2018 / Phys.org

Crops such as wheat and maize have undergone a breeding process lasting thousands of years, in the course of which mankind has gradually modified the properties of wild plants into highly cultivated variants. One motive was higher yields. A side effect of this breeding has been a reduction in genetic diversity and the loss of useful properties. This is demonstrated by an increased susceptibility to diseases, a lack of flavor or reduced vitamin and nutrient content in modern varieties. Now, for the first time, researchers from Brazil, the U.S. and Germany have created a new crop from a wild plant within a single generation using CRISPR-Cas9, a modern genome editing process. Starting with a wild tomato, they introduced a variety of crop features without losing the valuable genetic properties of the wild plant. The results have been published in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology. Read more