The creation of better crops was possible thanks to the increased production of proteins linked with human obesity.
Scientists discovered a unique way to grow bigger and more healthy crops. They inserted a human gene that is related to obesity and fat into the plants in order to increase their harvest.
Smithsonian Magazine reports that potato plants that had been bred with FTO (the human gene that encodes a fat-regulating proteins) were able to produce 50 percent more crops by combining them with other potatoes. Scientists believe their work can help combat global hunger by growing more food, without taking up space for agriculture.
Chuan He from the University of Chicago, coauthor of Nature Biotechnology paper, said that it was a bold and unusual idea. We were expecting catastrophic results, to be honest.
Smithsonian was informed by him that FTO is not a protein that plants have, and that FTO's growth is controlled and maintained by many genes. FTO is a genetic disorder that can't be controlled.
He said that [FTO] enters, and there is no restriction on where it can access. It's a bomb.
Scientists were still pleasantly surprised when the effects turned out to be larger potatoes than dead potato plants.
Only an appetizer
The research is still in its early stages and we shouldn't expect these genetically hacked potatoes to be on our shelves anytime soon. Smithsonian was informed by the team that they are planning to do safety and replication studies to ensure their astonishing yield is not an accident. They are encouraged by the results they have so far.
Guifang Jia, a Peking University chemical biologist and study coauthor, told Smithsonian that this strategy is very effective in engineering our crops.
Editor's Note 8/23/2021: The term "splice" was removed from the headline and story because it refers only to a particular natural process.
READ MORE: Scientists Transfer Human Protein into Plants to Increase Their Size [Smithsonian Magazine]
Learn more about agricultural genetics: Scientists have Gene-Hacked Pest Caterpillar Eggs To Self Destruct