Manipulated grass hormone could cut the job of mowing

June 03, 2006|By HARTFORD COURANT

It's barely June, and you're already sick of mowing.

How about grass that stays nice and green - and, best of all, short.

It not only appears possible but perhaps even likely in the not-too-distant future.

In a paper last month in the journal Nature, scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute reported they have deciphered the signaling pathway for a class of steroid hormones that regulates growth and development in plants.

"By manipulating the steroid pathway, we think we can regulate plant stature and yield," said Joanne Chory, an investigator at the institute's Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.

People have been manipulating plant size through traditional methods for thousands of years. But today, through genetic engineering, even more dramatic plant manipulations are possible - such as no-mow grass.

Chory said one seed company already has used the technology to make such a grass, but the product has not yet been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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