Branching hormone could aid NZ breeding programs

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Branching hormone could aid NZ breeding programs

Understanding how plants form branches on a genomic level could help horticultural breeding programs in the future at New Zealand Crown institute Plant & Food Research.

Michele Barefoot and Gavin Ross of Plant & Food Research

Plant & Food general manager of business development Gavin Ross, told there was a plant hormone known to be closely linked to branching.

"Branching is important for the architecture and control of canopies and fruit trees, and we've found the receptor the plant has in its physiology that the branching hormone interacts with," Ross said.

"That's critical because then we’ve got a mechanism potentially to change the way a plant branches, its form, and therefore everything around its potential yield, fruit set and shape.

"You’re getting down into understanding the physiology of the plant, understanding what makes a branch form in a particular place at a particular time."

He said this knowledge would help in fruit and vegetable breeding programs with new markers.

"It will help in selecting particular characteristics we’re after – it may be that we’re after something with more branches or less branches, sets more flowers or less flowers," he said.

"This is a long term approach. This is not going to be something the industry can use this year, next year or even 10 years from now, because it’s the sort of thing that underpins what we’re doing.

"The basic technology around genomics is mind-blowing. You can sequence a genome very quickly."

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