FAPESP – In order to enhance the development of genetically modified plants in Brazil, researchers from two units of Embrapa (the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, and Coffee, both of them in Brasilia, created a technique to select specific parts of the gene called promoters. These define where, when and under what conditions the desired traits will reveal themselves in plants. The researchers coordinated by Juliana Dantas de Almeida from Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology intended to select the promoters of interest and place them in a catalog for research institutions. The application for a patent for this selected genes modification technique was submitted in April. At present, to develop a genetically modified plant, the researchers use constitutive promoters, meaning that the inserted gene will manifest itself in all parts of the plant and at all stages of its development. The new method makes it possible for the inserted gene to manifest itself only in the endosperm (nutritive tissue produced in seeds) of the fruit of the transformed plant. In the battle against diseases such as coffee berry borer, a beetle that reproduces in the grain of the fruit, for example, the attack would focus on the origin of the problem directly. The resistance gene for the disease would be controlled by a specific promoter that would only fight off the beetle and not other insects that feed on the leaves.
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