The Malaysian Palm Oil Board and Orion Genomics discover oil yield gene in oil palm (Singh, et al. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12356)
On Wednesday a team of Malaysian and American scientists published a pair of papers in Nature on the genome of this profoundly important (oil palm) tree. They hope to use the knowledge to grow better trees that can yield more oil. The researchers discovered that a single gene, called SHELL, has a powerful effect on how much oil is produced mutations to SHELL can raise the yield of the palm by as much as 30 percent.
The genome of one of the world's key commercial crops, the oil palm, has been sequenced. The plant's oil is used in many food and household products, but has caused controversy because large areas of rainforest have been cleared to make way for plantations. Through deciphering the crop's DNA, researchers have identified the genes that could help to produce a more sustainable crop. The work is published in Nature.