Clonal reproduction through seeds may enhance food security
Apomixis, or asexual seed formation, is an alternative way to sexual reproduction that some plants use to produce viable seeds containing genetic clones of the female parent. Although it is regarded as a promising tool for breeders and farmers, apomixis does not occur in most food crops. Redirecting sexually reproducing species toward apomixis is awaited through the manipulation of key biological pathways involved in developmental programmes controlling sexuality. However, to do so, scientists must first elucidate the detailed mechanisms by which it occurs. The EU-funded MAD project is creating an international research and training network to build on the wealth of knowledge and resources accumulated in numerous related multidisciplinary fields. Harnessing the important potential of apomixis could help meet the food security challenge of a growing population facing pressures due to climate change and strong societal demands on health and biodiversity preservation.
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