Aug 30, 2021

Scientists Add Human Fat Gene Into Potatoes to Make Them Grow Huge

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, genetics

A team of scientists found an unusual trick for growing bigger, heartier crops: inserting a human gene related to obesity and fat mass into plants to supersize their harvest.

Augmenting potatoes with the human gene that encodes a fat-regulating protein called FTO, which essentially alters the genetic code to rapidly mass-produce proteins, made otherwise identical potato plants grow crops that were 50 percent larger, Smithsonian Magazine reports. By growing more food without taking up more space for agriculture, the scientists say their work could help fight global hunger — without adding to its climate impact.

“It [was] really a bold and bizarre idea,” University of Chicago chemist Chuan He, coauthor of a paper published in Nature Biotechnology, told Smithsonian. “To be honest, we were probably expecting some catastrophic effects.”

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