Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Blue Flowers

I have been focusing on CRISPRs for several years now, ever since I heard about them from Lander at Broad. I also hybridize flowers, using details genetic analysis, but not CRISPRs. You see, CRISPRs are like handling nuclear materials. If they get into a cell they can cause havoc. I limit my selections of chemicals to methanol for pigment separation.

In the WSJ is an article about some person moving to that edge. The article states:

After his parents go to bed, ....usually retires to the third bedroom of the family apartment, where he has built a laboratory. There, amid the whir of climate-controlling fans and equipment harvested from eBay, he is working on what he hopes will one day become a lucrative career. ...., 25 years old, is a plant hacker. “I want to make flowers no one has ever seen,” he says, wearing shorts and a T-shirt on a recent day at his home in ...... “What would happen if you combined features of a pine tree with an eggplant?” He also wants to turn a rose blue. 

Now I have also sought the blue flower, and have written extensively on it. It is not simple. You need the DNA structure of the plant, namely the Cas9 target, it must be the gene that controls blue, and you better know what you mean by blue. And that is just the beginning.

The article concludes with:

......, of ..., is also the founder of a company that raised $484,000 on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter for its glowing plant in 2013, but hasn’t delivered yet. He said delivery of glowing plant seeds to backers will start this year. Next in production is a new kind of moss that smells like patchouli that could be a replacement for air fresheners one day. After that, he too will make a go at the blue rose, he says.

Plants are tricky. They have many more genes than humans and many more base pairs. You see plants have been around a lot longer than we mammals. Humans have been manipulating plants for tens of thousands of years and we have corn and a variety of other results. What we do not really know is how plants are colored. I have taken a swipe at it for the past ten years. I am still trying to understand the process. Yet it takes an understanding of plants and genetics as well as a well controlled lab. One must be careful, especially with CRISPR technology, especially in a poorly controlled environment.

So if you worry about Iran and nukes you should be terrified by CRISPRs and labs in the "homes" of what may be less than educated 25 year olds.