EU-funded scientists identified the gene that transfers nutrients from plants to seeds

A EU-funded research has identified the so-called 'nourishing gene', which in charge of transferring nutrients from plants to seeds. This new discovery could help increase global food production while it also has implications for food security.

A team of researchers that received EU funds throughout the 'Harnessing plant reproduction for crop improvement' action of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) framework, has identified the 'nourishing gene' in charge of transferring nutrients from plants to seeds. The COST 2012 call for proposals is now open.

The 'nourishing gene', named Meg1, regulates the optimum amount of nutrients flowing from mother to offspring in maize plants. The results from this new study mean that scientists can now focus on using the gene and understanding the mechanism by which it is expressed to increase seed size and productivity in major crop plants.

Dr Jose Gutierrez-Marcos from the University of Warwick, and co-author of this study highlighted that these findings have significant implications for global agriculture and food security, as scientists now have the molecular know-how to manipulate this gene by traditional plant breeding or through other methods to improve seed traits, such as increased seed biomass yield. He also added that to meet the demands of the world's growing population in years to come, scientists and breeders must work together to safeguard and increase agricultural production.