Emerging Science Note/Lawnmower No More
Air Date: Week of July 20, 2007
Genetically modified grass? Emily Taylor reports on what might be the end of lawn mowing as we know it.
GELLERMAN: Just ahead: robots past, present and future. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Emily Taylor.
TAYLOR: The grass is always greener, right? Well, thanks to recent research at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland, you may soon be able to have green grass and get rid of that noisy, polluting lawnmower to boot.
Researchers led by Joanne Chory were able to map the signaling pathway of a crucial hormone in plants that regulates growth and development, thus creating grass that stays green and never needs mowing. Now they believe they can manipulate the pathway and control a plant’s stature and its yield. The group of hormones the team examined are called Brassinosteroids, and they act as a chemical messengers of plant development. Without them all plants would be infertile, tiny dwarves.
By limiting the effect of brassinosteroids, Chory and her team believe they may be able to create a genetically modified strain of dwarf grass that stays green all the time. And by enhancing the amount of the steroid they may be able to create types of plants that would yield greater amounts of seeds.
Other studies have shown that brassinosteroids can regulate their own expansion in nature, allowing plants to adapt to their growing conditions in a particular environment. The mainstream effects of this new research could drastically change the face of horticulture in the future, producing sturdier, more fruitful crops.
That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science, I’m Emily Taylor.
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