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Bunch at Once

Researchers are developing a tool to add a handful of genes at a time into crop genomes, The Scientist reports.

A trio of researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service describes in The Plant Journal a new tool to introduce multiple genes into a plant genome. The approach, called Gene Assembly in Agrobacterium by Nucleic Acid Transfer Using Recombinase Technology, or GAANTRY, allows the stacking of multiple genes into an Agrobacterium virulence plasmid transfer‐DNA. When the ARS researchers tested their tool in Arabidopsis, they found it stably introduced the stack of 10 genes they developed. This suggested to them that GAANTRY could be a "powerful, yet simple to use tool for plant genetic engineering," as they note in their paper.

The Scientist says, though, that some plant biologists aren't sure that the tool is ready for wider use. The University of Exeter's Sarah Gurr tells it that it need to be tried on other plants than Arabidopsis. "It's far removed from getting it into a crop in a field," she adds.