Driving evolution in wild plants

Two groups of scientists independently engineer gene drives in Arabidopsis thaliana, demonstrating the possibility for spreading fitness-reducing genetic modifications through wild populations of plants for population suppression.

Imagine a future where yield-robbing agricultural weeds or biodiversity threatening invasive plants could be kept on a genetic leash, or where the evolutionary rescue of extinction-threatened plant species could be super-charged. Synthetic gene drives can subvert the normal rules of evolution by spreading harmful (or beneficial) mutations and/or genes through wild plant populations to achieve these goals. In a recent issue of Nature Plants, Oberhofer et al. and Liu et al. make exciting advances that bring the theory closer to reality.

Neve, P., Barrett, L. Driving evolution in wild plants. Nat. Plants (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-024-01723-x

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