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In the wild, resistance to herbicides might confer an advantage to plants. Credit Xiao Yang
One of the most common methods employed to make crops resistant to herbicides has been shown to have advantages over weedy forms of rice. These findings suggest that these modifications can have a broad variety of impacts that extend beyond farms and into the wild.

Many crops have been genetically altered in order to ward off the glyphosate. The herbicide was initially available under the trade name Roundup. This resistance to glyphosate allows farmers to eradicate most herbicides, without causing damage to their crops.

Glyphosate slows the growth of plants by blocking an enzyme known as EPSP synthase. ラウンドアップ This enzyme is involved in the creation of specific amino acids and other molecules that make up about 35% of the plant’s mass. 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. ラウンドアップ Genes usually come from bacteria that infect plants.

The plant can endure the negative effects of glyphosate due to its extra EPSP-synthase. Biotechnology labs have also attempted to create EPSP synthase with more plant-based components than bacteria using genes from plants. This was partly done to exploit the loophole in US law that allows regulatory approval for organisms that aren’t derived from bacterial parasites.

There aren’t many studies that have looked into the possibility that transgenes similar to those that confer resistance to glyphosate increase the competitiveness of plants in reproduction and survival once they’re introduced to wild or weedy cousins by cross-pollination. Norman Ellstrand is a University of California Riverside plant geneticist. “The assumption is that any kind of transgene can cause disadvantage in the wild, in the absence of pressure to select, due to the fact that it reduces the fitness of the plant,” Ellstrand said.

Lu Baorong from Fudan University in Shanghai is now challenging that view. The study demonstrates that glyphosate resistance even when it is not applied to the weedy varieties of the rice crop could provide a substantial health benefit.

Lu and coworkers modified the cultivars of rice to improve the production of EPSP synthase. The modified rice was then cross-bred with a wild-type relative.

The group then let offspring that were cross-bred to breed with one another, creating second-generation hybrids that are genetically similar to their parents except for the number of copies of the gene that encodes EPSP synthase. ラウンドアップ The team discovered that the ones who had greater than one copy of the gene that codes for EPSP synthase expressed more enzyme and produced more tryptophan as expected.

Researchers also found that transgenic hybrids produced between 48-125% more seeds per plant, had greater rates of photosynthesis and more shoots than those that were not transgenic.

ラウンドアップ Lu believes that making rice that is weedy more competitive might make the problem worse for the farmers around the globe whose fields are being ravaged by the pest.

“If the EPSP-synthase gene gets into the wild rice species, their genetic diversity, which is important to conserve is at risk because the transgene’s genetic make-up could outcompete normal species,” says Brian Ford-Lloyd an expert in plant genetics at the University of Birmingham, UK. “This is one of the clearest instances of the extremely damaging consequences [of GM crops on the environment.”

The popular belief that genetically modified crops that contain additional copies of their genes are more secure is questioned by this study. ラウンドアップ Lu states that his study does not support this view.

Researchers believe this finding calls for reconsideration of the regulation for genetically modified crops. Ellstrand thinks that biosafety rules could be relaxed as we benefit from a high degree of satisfaction from the two decades of genetic engineering. “But this study has shown that new products need to be evaluated with care.”

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