Upland cotton (right) evolved from the hybridization of two ancestral species, one similar to G. raimondii (left) and one similar to G. arboreum (middle). Selection and domestication yielded longer, higher quality fibers than either ancestor. Credit: Chen Laboratory/Univ. of Texas at Austin.
Upland cotton (right) evolved from the hybridization of two ancestral species, one similar to G. raimondii (left) and one similar to G. arboreum (middle). Selection and domestication yielded longer, higher quality fibers than either ancestor.

First step taken toward epigenetically modified cotton

Epigenetic modification represents new ways to breed plants and animals by selectively turning gene expression on and off to create new lineages without altering genes.

America's cotton farmers are facing low prices and unpredictable weather patterns, but new research led by Z. Jeffrey Chen at The University of Texas at Austin might offer a break for the industry. His team has taken the first step toward a new way of breeding heartier, more productive cotton through a process called epigenetic modification.

In recent decades, scientists have discovered that many traits in living things are controlled not just by their genetics — what's written

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