Synthetic genetic circuits help plants adapt to climate change

Geneticists at Stanford University have figured out a way to carefully control the structure of plant roots that could help them adapt to climate change.

The team created synthetic genetic circuits similar to computer codes or electrical circuits.  These circuits can help them reprogram crops to make them more resilient to climate change.  A shallower root system, for instance, could help crops better absorb phosphorus near the surface.  In contrast, a deeper root system could be better for collecting water and nitrogen.

If this technique turns out to be effective, its possibilities are limitless.  Next, the authors plan to test their reprogrammed genetic circuits on sorghum, which shows promise as a biofuel.  The team hopes to improve sorghum’s ability to absorb water and perform photosynthesis more efficiently.

Can you think of other crops that can benefit from this innovation?  Let us know in the comments.

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