Instant Bonsai – just remove genes

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Scientists in Japan, working with colleagues in Michigan, have figured out a way to genetically suppress growth in plants, resulting in miniature versions. If the growth hormone gibberellin, controlled by genes GAMT1 and GAMT2, is reintroduced, the offspring come out normal. The result’s been dubbed instant bonsai, with potential results ranging from real live pine trees to hang from your car mirror as a natural air freshener, to grapevines tiny enough to grow next to the sprouts on your kitchen worktop. While genetic engineering is involved, it’s quite different to splicing fish DNA into tomatoes: gibberellin is absent in dwarf plants that exist in nature already. [GT]

Instant bonsai [in Japanese]

Gabrielle Taylor
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