Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Businessweek Archives

Plant Breeders Discover A Straight Shot To Success


Developments to Watch

PLANT BREEDERS DISCOVER A STRAIGHT SHOT TO SUCCESS

Breeders of white orchids have to wait for three to six years, when a hybrid blooms, to see if it produces the desired albino petals. But U.S. Agriculture Dept. scientists have developed a method that allows them to get a sneak preview in just three days.

The secret? A "gun" that sprays white petals with microscopic gold pellets. The pellets are coated with a gene from corn plants that turns on pigment production. If the corn's regulator gene causes the orchid's white petals to turn color, breeders know that the orchid's own regulator must be broken--which is what they want. Left alone, an orchid with a broken regulator is sure to produce white offspring.

Breeding white orchids isn't such a big deal by itself. But Robert J. Griesbach, an Agriculture Dept. plant geneticist in Beltsville, Md., says the gene gun should be useful in all kinds of plant breeding. By shedding light on regulator genes, the process may even help scientists understand human cancers, which can be caused by regulator genes gone haywire, Griesbach says. Don't worry about using up a lot of gold, by the way: Each pellet is a tenth the size of the period at the end of this sentence.EDITED BY PETER COY


LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus