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Plants in the wild could be given resistance to herbicides.

Credit Xiao Yang
One of the most common methods used to make crops more resistant to herbicides was shown to have advantages over the weedy varieties of rice. This suggests that this genetic modification may also have potential to have an impact on wild animals.

A range of crops has been genetically modified so that they become immune to Roundup herbicide glyphosate. This glyphosate-resistant crop allows farmers to eradicate the majority of weeds from the fields without causing damage to their crops.

Glyphosate prevents plant growth by inhibiting EPSP synthase (an enzyme involved in the creation of certain amino acids and other molecules). This enzyme could make up as much as 35 percent or more of a plant’s total mass. The technique of genetic modification employed by Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, which are based in St Louis (Missouri), generally involves inserting genes into a crop’s DNA to increase EPSP synthase production. Genes usually come from bacteria that cause disease to plants.

This extra EPSP synthase enables plants to resist the effects of glyphosate. ラウンドアップ Biotechnology laboratories are looking to utilize genes from plants rather than bacteria to increase EPSP synthase. ラウンドアップ This is partly because the US law allows for regulatory approval that allows organisms that have transgenes to be approved.

There aren’t many studies that have examined whether transgenes such glyphosate-resistant genes can — once introduced to weedy or wild plants via cross-pollination enhance the competition of plants in survival, reproduction and growth. “The common belief is that any sort of transgene can cause disadvantages in the wild in absence of selection pressure, because the extra machinery would lower the fitness,” says Norman Ellstrand, a plant geneticist at the University of California in Riverside. Lu Baorong (an ecologist at Fudan University, Shanghai) has now questioned that opinion. It has shown that resistance to glyphosate can provide a significant fitness boost to a weedy rice crop known as Oryza sativa even when it is not in use.

Lu and colleagues modified cultivated rice species to enhance the production of EPSP synthase. The modified rice was crossed with a wild ancestor.

The researchers allowed offspring from cross-breeding to breed with each other, creating second-generation hybrids that are genetically identical to each other except for the amount of copies the gene encodes EPSP synase. The hybrids that had more copies of the gene had a higher chance to make more tryptophan as well as have greater levels of enzymes than the unmodified hybrids.

Researchers also discovered that transgenic hybrids are more photogenic, produced more plants per plant and had 48-125 percent more seeds than the non-transgenic varieties.

Lu states that making weedy grains more competitive may create more difficulties for farmers across the world who have crops infected by the pest.

Brian Ford Lloyd, a UK plant scientist, stated that the EPSP Synthase gene could get in wild rice varieties. ラウンドアップ This would threaten their genetic diversity, which is extremely crucial. “This is a prime illustration of the most plausible and damaging negative effects of GM crops on the environment.” The study also challenges the public perception that genetically modified crops carrying extra copies of their own genes are safer than the ones that have the genes of microorganisms. Lu states, “Our study shows this is not the case.”

According to some scientists this finding suggests that future regulation of genetically engineered crops needs to be reconsidered. Ellstrand believes that biosafety laws could be relaxed as we benefit from a high degree of satisfaction from the two decades of genetic engineering. The study does not prove that the new products are secure.