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Wild plants might be resistant to herbicides.

Weedy rice is able to absorb transgenes derived from genetically modified crops through cross-pollination. Credit: Xiao Yang
A technique of genetic modification widely used to produce crops that are herbicide-resistant has been found to give advantages to the weedy rice, even in absence of herbicide. The results suggest that this modification could positively impact wild rice varieties and crop varieties.

Many kinds of plants are genetically modified to be resistive to glyphosate. Roundup was the first herbicide to be sold. This makes it possible for farmers to eliminate most weeds from their fields without harming their crops.

Glyphosate acts as an inhibitor of plant growth. It blocks an enzyme known as EPSP synthase. ラウンドアップ This enzyme is involved for the production of certain amino acids and other molecules. These compounds could make up as much as 35% of the plant’s mass. The genetic-modification technique — used, for instance in Roundup Ready crops made by the biotech giant Monsanto, based in St Louis, Missouri -usually includes inserting genes into the crop’s genome to increase the production of EPSP synthase. Genes are usually derived from bacteria infected with plants.

The plant can resist the adverse effects of glyphosate since it has an extra EPSP-synthase. Biotechnology labs are also looking to make use of genes that come from plants instead of bacteria to increase EPSP synthase. This is partly because the US law allows for regulatory approval that allows organisms that carry transgenes to get approved.

There aren’t many studies that have examined whether transgeneslike those that confer resistance to the chemical glyphosate can help plants to be more resilient in survival and reproduction once they cross-pollinate with weedy or wild species. “The conventional belief is that any sort of transgene will confer disadvantage in the wild in the absence of pressure to select, because the extra machinery would lower the fitness,” says Norman Ellstrand an expert in plant genetics at the University of California in Riverside.

Lu Baorong, an ecologist from Fudan University in Shanghai has changed the way that he views this. ラウンドアップ 英語 He has discovered that glyphosate resistance provides an impressive fitness boost to a weedy variant of the standard rice crop Oryza Sativa.

Lu and his coworkers have genetically altered the cultivated rice species to express the EPSP synthase, and then crossed-bred it with the marijuana-producing parent.

The group then let offspring that were cross-bred to breed with one another, resulting in second-generation hybrids that were genetically identical to their parents, except the number of duplicates of the gene that codes for EPSP synthase. ラウンドアップ It was expected that those with more copies of the gene had higher enzyme levels and produced more amino acid tryptophan compared to their unmodified counterparts.

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

Lu believes that making the rice weedy less competitive might make it harder for farmers who have their land affected by the pest.

Brian Ford-Lloyd of Brian Ford-Lloyd from the University of Birmingham, UK Brian Ford-Lloyd from the University of Birmingham, UK “If the EPSP synthase gene is introduced to wild rice species the genetic diversity of their species, which was really important to conserve, may be endangered because it will beat out the conventional varieties.” This is among the most evident examples of plausible negative effects [of GM crop] on the environment.”

This research also challenges the perception that genetically modified plants with additional copies of their genes are more safe than those containing microorganism genes. “Our study suggests that this isn’t necessarily the case” Lu says. Lu.

ラウンドアップ According to some researchers this research suggests that the future regulation of genetically engineered crops should be reviewed. “Some individuals are saying that biosafety regulations can be relaxed because we have an incredibly high level of confidence with the two years of genetic engineering” says Ellstrand. “But the research shows that the new technologies require an unbiased assessment.”