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Can cloning make better plants?

CAN CLONING MAKE BETTER PLANTS

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Answer Expert #27492

A clone refers to an offspring which is genetically identical to its sole parent and is asexually produced, and the basis of plant cloning can be dated back to biblical times (Salisbury, 2000). Plant clones can consist of entire populations; for example, all Southern Californian navel orange trees, form a clone descended from one ‘parent navel orange tree’ (Salisbury, 2000). Cloning has developed our understanding of numerous important cellular processes, such as nuclear differentiation and reprogramming, genomic imprinting and cellular ageing (McKinnell and Di Berardino, 1999). In the 1980s and 90s, several plant genes were cloned and examined within transformed cells to study their regulatory expression mechanisms (Goldberg, 2001).

Today, cloning plants is helping to meet the demands of feeding a rapidly expanding global population, by improving plant qualities such as increased size, yield and pest and disease resistance. Crop yields can be devastated by plant diseases, posing considerable threats to global food supplies (Steuernagel et al, 2016). Disease resistance genes represent an environmentally responsible and economical solution to controlling the impact of plant diseases; and cloning these genes can enable their durable deployment to whole crops on a global scale (Steuernagel et al, 2016). Cloning also provides a strategy to produce a uniform crop, providing a sales advantage in an age where crop specifications dictate sales prices dependent on specific marketing standards (UK Government, 2014). Important food crops such as rice, potatoes, tomatoes and corn (amongst many other) have now been genetically mapped, modified and cloned to enhance yields through conferring disease resistance and other beneficial characteristics (Martin et al, 1993; Vleeshouwers et al, 2011; Jones et al, 2014), making a vital contribution to feeding the world. In terms of food production, there is no doubt that cloning can make better plants.

References

Goldberg, R. B., 2001. From Cot Curves to Genomics. How Gene Cloning Established New Concepts in Plant Biology. Plant Physiology: 125(1); 4-8

Jones, J. D. G, Verweij, W., Jupe, F., Cooke, D., Dorling, S., Tomlinson, L. et al, 2014.
Elevating crop disease resistance with cloned genes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: 369 (1639);

Martin, G. B., Brommonschenkel, S. H., Chunwongse, J., Frary, A., Ganal, M. W., Spivey, R. et al, 1993. Map-based cloning of a protein kinase gene conferring disease resistance in tomato
Science: 262; 1432-1432

McKinnell, R.G. and Di Berardino, M. A., 1999. Biology of Cloning: History and Rationale. BioScience: 49 (11): 875-885.
Salisbury, F. B., 2000. Biology of Cloning: History and Rationale. BioScience: 50(8); 636

Steuernagel, B., Periyannan, S. K., Hernández-Pinzón, I., Witek, K., Rouse, M. N., Yu, G., Hatta, A., Ayliffe, M., Bariana, H., Jones, J. D. G., Lagudah, E. S., Wulff, B. B. H., 2016. Rapid cloning of disease-resistance genes in plants using mutagenesis and sequence capture. Nature Biotechnology: 34; 652–655

UK Government, 2014. Marketing standards for fresh fruit and vegetables: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/comply-with-marketing-standards-for-fresh-fruit-and-vegetables [Accessed 18th November 2016]

Vleeshouwers, V. G., Raffaele, S., Vossen, J. H., Champouret, N., Oliva, R., et al, 2011. Understanding and exploiting late blight resistance in the age of effectors. Annual Reviews in Phytopathology: 49; 507–531