WASHINGTON — Scientists have unlocked a gene that one day could bring bigger ears of corn, more roses on each bush and even faster-growing forests, all by controlling a hormone inside each plant.
"When I think of the uses--it's fantastic," said Jedrzej Szerszen, a Michigan State University plant pathologist who helped discover how to genetically manipulate plants' natural growth hormone.
In a study published today in the journal Science, Szerszen and colleagues Robert Bandurski and Krzystof Szczyglowski isolated and cloned a gene that controls the hormone.
"It's exciting," said Dr. Jerry Cohen of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who said genetic engineering might begin replacing growth chemicals in two to five years. "This is the first step."