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Integrating Resource Management

Flora DNA Research

Bioscience is developing a completely novel way to identify plants quickly and cheaply using DNA technology. The core of the new method is the recognition that like most other multi-cellular organisms, a large part of plant DNA is non-coding "junk". A great part of this "junk" is called transposable elements. These are relics of former retroviruses which inserted themselves into plant genomes. Bioscience has data upon which it has formulated the hypothesis that some of this "junk" in fact plays an active part in metabolism, thus is important for survival so is faithfully inherited. This has recently been supported by findings that certain transposable elements are transcribed into iRNA when tomatoes become infected with virus. Our research is looking to identify those transposons which are stable and inherited as phylogenetic markers. We can thus make simple PCR primers to selectively amplify these markers to give a DNA fingerprint unique to each species.