Researchers have successfully modified a tobacco plant for the leaves containing less harmful compounds and lower levels of addictive chemical nicotine. The findings pave the way to potentially alter other plants to be healthier, such as the elimination of a problematic compound or increasing the beneficial.
The work comes from researchers from the State University of North Carolina, where they created a new technique to reduce some of the harmful compounds found in tobacco leaves without negatively affecting other aspects of the plant. This included reducing the number of nitrosamines found on tobacco, as well as the level of nicotine.
The idea of using specialized techniques to reduce the number of harmful compounds found in plants is not new. What establishes the latest separate work is its ability to reduce these carcinogenic substances without increasingly increasing the amounts of other harmful compounds. The achievement was possible playing the DNA and the genes of the tobacco plant.
The reduced levels of unwanted compounds were found in the modified plants cultured both outdoors and in a greenhouse. The study informs that four carcinogenic compounds found in tobacco leaves were “significantly reduced” using the researchers’ technique, which could be used with other plants to be healthier and increase their beneficial features.
The study is the last example of how modifying plants can help promote and protect human health. For example, researchers in Japan reported last month that they had successfully developed a vaccine against cholera that comes in a rice form. The edible rice was adjusted for it to produce a non-toxic form of cholera toxin B, giving the body’s immune system the opportunity to build immunity when someone eats rice.