Scientists have taken the first step towards a genetically modified beer that has a flair – Earth – Science and Technology

Changes in the gene affecting leaf dye are visible at a glance.

Even hotter beer could be created thanks to scientists from the Biological Center of the ASCR. They were the first in the world to modify hops using modern CRISPR genetic technology, which allows precise interventions in a specific gene.

So far, they have successfully tested the technique on a gene important for the production of leaf dyes, but they are currently working on genes that affect the production of substances important in the brewing or pharmaceutical industries. The established technology could thus help to breed more useful hops for future generations.

Molecular techniques allow increasingly accurate genetic modifications. An example is a method called CRISPR, which allows scientists to make targeted interventions in DNA – they can turn off or correct a gene or change its sequence. The adjustment can be made to the last letter exactly. With it, scientists around the world have already modified, for example, tomatoes, wheat or fruit trees. “But hops were still missing from the list,” he says Tomáš Kocábek from the Institute of Molecular Plant Biology of the Biological Center of the ASCR. And it was hops that the experts from this workplace were the first to change using CRISPR technology.

The laboratory experiment took place in ...

The laboratory experiment was performed under controlled in vitro conditions.

The researchers tested the effectiveness of the method on a gene that encodes a key enzyme that produces leaf dyes. The reason for his choice was simple – his shutdown is clearly visible on the plant. The experimental hops had white or mosaic leaves.

The team will now focus on targeted changes in the genes responsible for hot acid production, which are important to the brewing industry. And so-called prenylated flavonoids, which act, among other things, against cancer, bacteria and inflammation.

“I am glad that we managed to introduce this methodology for hops, which also has a complication due to the fact that it is a vegetatively propagated crop,” says Praveen Awasthi, after completing a doctoral study from India at the Biological Center of the ASCR and lead author. research. He has used this technology before with a banana tree.

The results of the new study were published by researchers in January 2021 in international scientific journal Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. “CRISPR is a completely universal system for everything alive, from microorganisms to human cells, and will certainly yield many interesting results in the future, because it is possible to modify very specific genes without interfering with other regions of the genome,” explains Praveen Awasthi. The advantage of the method is that foreign genes do not have to be introduced into the organism, as is the case with other genetically modified organisms.

Crop breeding by genetic modification is allowed under certain conditions, e.g. in the United States, Australia and China. However, the European Union regulates all organisms created by innovative biotechnologies, including CRISPR. Scientists agree that the consumption of genetically modified foods has no adverse effects on human health. However, a study on long-term health impacts is still lacking.

Source: Jan Klika, Division of External Relations of the SSČ AV

Source: – Veda a technika by

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