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Genetic Linkage

Can Engineered Tobacco Plants that Make Human Sugars Improve Infant Formula and Plant-Based Milks?

In an eclectic application of transgenic technology, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and Davis describe retooling cells of a tobacco relative to produce enzymes required to synthesize the short sugars (oligosaccharides) found in human milk. The work appears in Nature Food.


Transgenic Technology


Plants have been genetically modified since the 1980s, programmed to produce molecules of use to us. In contrast to the controlled breeding of conventional agriculture, genetic modification inserts or removes specific genes, crafting a plant variant with some use for us.


Plants aren't only genetically modified to create or enhance fruits and veggies, or make them easier to cultivate or protect from pests and pathogens, but also to manufacture the enzymes required to catalyze biochemical reactions behind the synthesis of such ingredients as corn syrup, cornstarch, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and even sugars.


To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.

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