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Plants in the wild could be given herbicide resistance.

Credit to Xiao Yang
The use of genetic modification to make crops resistant to herbicides has been widely utilized to provide advantages to species of rice that are weedy. This suggests that this genetic modifications could also have the potential to impact wild animals.

A variety of crops are genetically engineered to resist the glyphosate. The herbicide, initially known as Roundup and then introduced on the market in the year 1996 under the tradename Roundup. Farmers can get rid of weeds in their fields using glyphosate, without harming their crops because of this resistance.

Glyphosate inhibits plant growth through blocking an enzyme, known as EPSP synthase, which is responsible for the production of specific amino acids and other molecules that make up as much as 35% of a plant’s mass. The genetic-modification method, employed in Roundup Ready crops by Monsanto (based in St Louis in Missouri) is the process of inserting genes in a plant to boost EPSP synthase production. Genes are typically derived from bacteria that infect the crops.

ラウンドアップ The plant can resist the adverse effects of glyphosate due to its extra EPSP-synthase. ラウンドアップ Biotechnology labs have also attempted to make EPSP-synthase more plant-based than bacteria using genes that come from plants. This was partially used to take advantage of a loophole found in US law, which permits regulatory approval for organisms which aren’t the result of bacteria.

There aren’t many studies that have examined whether transgenes, such as those that confer resistance to glyphosate, could make plants more resilient in survival and reproduction once they cross-pollinate with wild or weedy species. Norman Ellstrand of University of California Riverside states, “The conventional expectation is that any transgene that is found in nature will be detrimental if there’s no pressure to select because the additional machinery may decrease the fitness.”

Lu Baorong, an ecologist from Fudan University in Shanghai has changed the way that he views this. ラウンドアップ He has discovered that glyphosate resistance gives significant fitness benefits to the weedy version of the common rice plant Oryza sativa.

In the study published this month in New Phytologist 1, Lu and his colleagues genetically modified the rice plant to enhance the species’ own EPSP synthase. They crossed the altered rice with a weedy ancestor.

The team then allowed offspring cross-bred to breed with one another, creating second-generation hybrids that are genetically similar to their parents except for the number of duplicates of the gene that codes for EPSP synthase. As expected, the ones with more copies of the gene had more enzyme activity and more amino acid tryptophan in comparison to their counterparts that were not modified.

Researchers also found that transgenic plants showed higher rates of photosynthesis, produced more flowers, and produced 48-125% fewer seeds per plant than nontransgenic hybrids. This was in spite of the fact that glyphosate was not present.

Lu states that making the weedy grain more competitive could increase the difficulties it causes to farmers all over the world who have crops affected by the pest. Brian Ford-Lloyd is an UK plant geneticist. He says, “If the EPSP synthase gene is introduced into wild rice varieties their genetic diversity could be at risk, which is significant because the genotype with transgene has a higher level of competition than the standard species.” “This is one the most obvious instances of extremely plausible negative impacts of GM crops] on the environment.”

The study also challenges the popular perception that genetically modified crops carrying extra copies of their own genes are safer than the ones that have the genes of microorganisms. ラウンドアップ Lu says that “our study is not proving this to be the case.”

The research results call for a reconsideration of the future regulation of the genetically altered crops, researchers claim. Ellstrand thinks that biosafety laws may be relaxed because we can enjoy a high level security from two decades of genetic engineering. “But the research still indicates that innovative products require careful evaluation.”