Gene discovery could unlock plant potential

Scientists from the John Innes Centre in Norwich and the University of Freiburg in Germany have uncovered a plant gene that controls the size of seeds.

They hope this will lead to ways of improving crop quality and yield.

The BBSRC-funded work identified the gene in the Arabidopsis plant. When the gene was turned on at a higher level than normal, seeds a third larger in size and weight were produced.

No yield increase was recorded as fewer seeds were produced, so more work is needed. But relative oil content rose, so this effect is being investigated.