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More gene guns

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Mon May 25 04:15:08 EST 1992

In article <1992May25.063634.9553 at u.washington.edu> mrlee at milton.u.washington.edu (Mark Lee) writes:
>Mark Lee        University Of Washington

Mark said everything he had to say in the KEYWORDS: line and I couldn't
compensate for that oversight with my editor.

Making the various grains nutritionally balanced is a lofty ideal.

The reality comes closer to the notion that it may be a biochemical/
biophysical reengineering problem that reaches beyond the current knowledge
of endosperm gene ensemble/temporal regulation/the biophysics of protein
deposition/amino acid compostional constraints.

In practise, it is more practical to think about growing several crops
and eating a varied diet.

Someone is sure to ask: but what about all the people in the world on
unbalanced diets; wouldn't an all-nutrition-in-one crop solve their problem?
Perhaps the real solution to their problem is educational and political,
which is properly discussed in another forum.

One of the primary obstacles to bioengineering miracle plants is that
aside from a few "major" genes, most of any plants traits are controlled
by multiple genes.  My impression is that current progress with QTL
research via RFLP's is that multi-gene factors are not well behaved.  This
may be surprising only to non=plant breeders.  The possible combinatorials
involved with even 10 genes and a few alleles is astronomical.

The idea behind bioengineering to the identify factors that are important
and alleles that are superior.  Yet somehow, this seems to still overlook
the combinatorals behind making those identifications.  In other words,
why should analysis by RFLP gels be more efficient that traditional
methods employed by breeders/geneticists?  Both suffer the same problem:
inability to grow and screen a sufficient number of plants to identify
the _most_ superior genetypes via phenotypes.

Anyone have thoughts on this topic?

|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
|     On phone:   (919) 515-5328                                   |
|     At e-mail:  nmodena at unity.ncsu.edu                           | 
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         Lighten UP!  It's just a computer doing that to you.

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