Recent discovery has shown that scientists have genetically-modified cherry tomatoes to make them easier to grow and with future applications could make them more viable for indoor farming and space travel. The scientists, working out of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, used a gene-editing technology called ‘CRISPR’ to make changes to three key genes within the cherry tomatoes’ Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). What it means is that two of those genes are responsible for when the plant stops growing and starts flowering and fruiting while the third controls the length of the plant’s stem.
CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defence system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. Medline Plus stated that genome editing, which is also known as gene editing, refers to a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA by allowing genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome. The implication of the effort on the cherry tomatoes makes the end result to yield more compact cherry tomato plant that grows in clusters, like grapes, and also more quickly than unmodified cherry tomatoes, in only about 40 days.
These changes make the tomatoes easier to grow in smaller, controlled spaces, like indoor farms, urban rooftop farms, and even spaceships. Findings by the scientists were published in a paper in Nature Biotechnology, suggesting that the immediate application of these modified crops is that they could prove to be more viable, as human-caused pollution makes farming land more limited and introduces challenges for crops. “This demonstrates how we can produce crops in new ways, without having to tear up the land as much or add excessive fertilizer that runs off into rivers and streams”, this was the opinion of a plant biologist, Zach Lippman, who disclosed that adding that, this is “a complementary approach to help feed people locally and with a reduced carbon footprint”.
FarmingFarmersFarms had reported in the stories, ‘How Biotech can enhance potato value chain’ and ‘Modernising agriculture’ that Biotech potatoes can equally display significant yield advantage of over 300% when compared to conventional varieties without the application of fungicides while such technology had been found to be a transformative force in modernising Nigerian agriculture, addressing challenges and unlocking new possibilities.