• Question: Why did you change the DNA of a potato?

    Asked by Aidan Martin to Dara on 7 Dec 2021.
    • Photo: Dara Meehan

      Dara Meehan answered on 12 Nov 2021:

      We wanted to see if we could take out a gene that causes potatoes to turn green and go bad. If we took it out, the potato would have a longer shelf life and not be dangerous to eat after a while. However, this gene was also important for the potatoe’s natural defences, so by taking it out, it made it weaker. It’s always important to think of all the possible side effects that can happen when doing genetic engineering, because even though something might appear to only do one thing, it can have lots of other effects you’re not aware of. We also tried to edit the DNA of potato to make it more resistant to blight, which was very challenging but obviously very important too.