If you’re worried about genetically modified food, the ramifications of increasing biofuel production, global warming, and food shortages, you’re not alone. Researchers at the University of Liverpool are not just worried; they’re doing something about it. These scientists aren’t shy about appropriating a bit of DNA from one organism and doing a bit of tweaking on another. A plant from Madagascar, Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi, is their most recent and promising candidate. Because it captures moisture laden CO2 by night, the plant requires around ten times less water than major food crops. The idea is to create a plant which is suitable for biofuel production and can be grown in underutilized desert lands without the need for water intensive irrigation. Food crops could then be grown on shrinking fertile lands that are increasingly being used to produce biofuels. Liverpool scientists are uniquely positioned for this research because of their last bit of borrowing from Mother Nature.  They, along with one other UK facility, have begun using a new DNA sequencing machine developed from an enzyme found in fireflies. The enzyme enables the reading of half a billion DNA letters within a few hours, compared to the 50,000 letters that would be read by a sequencer that doesn’t light its DNA with firefly technology. 

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