Annual Report 2002 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

10 Identifying restorer genes in plants

Maureen R. Hanson, Molecular Biology and Genetics, and research team identified a gene that restores pollen production to sterile plants. Working with the petunia, a decorative plant, the researchers located the fertility restorer gene in the plant cell nuclei of particular petunia varieties. This gene prevents an abnormal gene in the cells' mitochondria from disrupting pollen production. No other plant gene that can turn off the expression of a defective mitochondrial gene had been previously discovered. Knowing the general location of the gene in one plant genome helps to pinpoint it in other plants. Identifying a crop plant's natural restorer gene helps plant breeders transfer the gene more quickly to advanced breeding lines either by traditional methods or genetic engineering techniques.

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