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Wild plants could be treated with herbicides.

Weedy rice may absorb transgenes derived from genetically modified rice by cross-pollinating. Credit: Xiao Yang
A common method of genetic modification that makes crops resistant to herbicides was found to offer advantages over rice varieties that are weedy. This suggests that such genetic modification could also have potential to affect wild animals.

There are many varieties of crops have been genetically altered to resist the glyphosate. ララウンドアップ 希釈倍率 Roundup was the first herbicide that was marketed. This allows farmers to remove the majority of weeds from their fields without harming their crops.

ラウンドアップ Glyphosate prevents plant growth by blocking EPSP synthase (an enzyme involved in the formation of amino acids, and various other molecules). The enzyme can make up as much as 35% or more of a plant’s total mass. Genetic modification employed by Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, which are based in St Louis (Missouri), typically involves inserting genes into the DNA of the crop to increase EPSP synthase production. The genes typically come from bacteria that are infected with plants.

The additional EPSP synthase allows the plant to be resistant to the effects of glyphosate. ラウンドアップ Biotechnology labs have also attempted to utilize the genes of plants to increase the EPSP synthase enzyme, in part to exploit an American loophole which permits the approval of regulatory authorities of transgenes which are not derived from bacterial pests.

A few studies have looked into the possibility that transgenes like ones that confer resistance to glyphosate are able to — once they are wild or weedy relatives by cross-pollination — make those plants more competitive for survival and reproduction. Norman Ellstrand is a University of California Riverside plant geneticist. “The expectation is that any transgene can cause disadvantage in the wild in the absence of selective pressure because it would reduce the fitness of the plant,” Ellstrand said.

Lu Baorong is an Ecologist in Fudan University Shanghai. His study shows that resistance to glyphosate offers a significant health benefit even when it’s not applied.

Lu and his associates modified the cultivars of rice to increase the production of EPSP synthase. They also crossed the modified rice with a weedy-related. Their research was published in NewPhytologist 1..

The team then permitted the offspring from cross-breeding to cross-breed with each other to create second generation hybrids. They were genetically identical except for the amount of EPSP synthase genes they had. The hybrids that had more copies of the gene had a higher chance to make more tryptophan and have greater levels of enzymes over their counterparts that were not modified. Researchers also discovered that transgenics have higher rates of flowering, more flowers and 48-125% more seeds/plant than nontransgenics.

Lu states that making weedy crops more competitive can cause more problems to farmers all over the world whose crops are affected by the insect.

Brian Ford Lloyd, a UK plant scientist, said that the EPSP Synthase gene is able to get in wild rice varieties. This would threaten their genetic diversity, which is crucial. This is among the most evident examples of likely negative effects of GM crop] on the environment.”

ラウンドアップ The study also challenges the idea that genetically modified plants with additional copies of their genes are safer than crops that have microorganism genes. ラウンドアップ Lu claims that the study doesn’t support this belief.

Researchers have said that this discovery requires review of the regulations for the future on genetically modified crops. Ellstrand says “Some people believe that biosafety regulation should be looser.” Ellstrand adds: “But the study demonstrates that novel products still need cautious evaluation.”