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Hello and thank you for taking my question. I understand that selective breeding by humans has led to an agricultural industry reliant on species with a relatively small gene pool, which may lead to increased susceptibility to infection. Are there efforts in genetic modification research to not just rectify such genetic susceptibilities, but to prevent future catastrophes by increasing the genetic variety of current crops?

Submitted by: Detrick Snyder


Expert response from Ksenija Gasic

Clemson University

Monday, 11/19/2018 13:26

That is a good question and the simple answer is yes. Under genetic modification in the broad sense, this would fall within random genetic modifications caused by applying radiation. Genetic modifications using Agrobacterium and or CRISPR/Cas 9 system are targeting single or a few genes, so rather “rectifying genetic susceptibilities” due to narrow genomes then by general increase in diversity. General increase in genetic diversity is done much more effectively by crossing with exotic or wild relatives of the agriculturally important species in so called pre-breeding activities, e.g. generating material to be used in breeding.