Sweeter maize


A gene from rice can make maize produce more sugar.


A cross-section of a cob of transgenic maize, with blue dye highlighting the expression of an imported rice gene.
A cross-section of a cob of transgenic maize, with blue dye highlighting the expression of an imported rice gene.
Rothamsted Research

The maize shown above has had a gene from rice added to its genome that regulates the accumulation of sucrose in kernels and causes more kernels to be grown by each plant.

The rice gene affects a natural chemical in maize, trehalose 6-phosphate or T6P, which influences the distribution of sucrose. By depressing levels of T6P in the phloem – the tissue that distributes many compounds around inside the plant – the gene allows more sucrose to move into developing kernels and also increases rates of photosynthesis, which produces even more sucrose.

The engineered maize, described in Plant Physiology, is sweeter and more resilient.

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Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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