Dan Voytas is a plant geneticist at the University of Minnesota who headed to a nearby company called Cellectis Plant Sciences, where to apply his studies on fundamental DNA engineering.
His newest creation is a Ranger Russet potato that doesn’t accumulate sweet sugars at typical cold storage temperatures. That will let it last longer, and when it’s fried it won’t produce as much acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen.
What’s different about the potato is that it was bred with the help of gene editing, a new kind of technique for altering DNA that plant scientists say is going to be revolutionary for its simplicity and power. The technology could also be a way to engineer plants that avoid the stigma, and the regulations, normally associated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Fresh from his success with two widely utilized smartphone apps, CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources) plant pathologist Scot Nelson has created a new and more technical app, the Leaf Doctor, for a more specialized audience. He doesn't anticipate that the Leaf Doctor will have the same broad, popular appeal as his Plant Doctor app, which helps to identify disease on plants and has been used all over the globe. Likewise, his recently released but already widespread Pic-a-Papaya app, which tracks papaya ringspot virus in Hawai'i. For many of those who will use the Leaf Doctor, though, it is likely to be a professional game-changer.