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Plants in the wild could be given herbicide resistance.

Credit Xiao Yang
One of the most common methods employed to make crops resistant to herbicides has been shown to offer advantages over weedy forms of rice. ラウンドアップ This suggests that such genetic modification may also have potential to have an impact on wild animals.

A variety of crops have been genetically engineered to resist glyphosate. This herbicide, originally known as Roundup, was introduced to the market in 1996 under the tradename Roundup. Farmers can eradicate most the weeds that grow in their fields by using this glyphosate resistance without causing damage to their crops. Glyphosate is an inhibitor of plant growth. It inhibits an enzyme called EPSP synthase. This enzyme is responsible in the production certain amino acids and other molecules. These compounds could be responsible for 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 into the crop to increase EPSP-synthase output. Genes usually come from bacteria that infect plants.

The plant is able to resist the effects glyphosate thanks to the additional EPSP synthase. Biotechnology labs tried to use genes from plants to boost EPSP synthase production. This was partly to exploit a loophole within US law that permits regulatory approval of transgenes contained in organisms that are not derived from pests of bacteria.

A few studies have explored whether transgeneslike ones that confer resistance to glyphosate, can make plants more resilient in their survival and reproduction after they cross-pollinate with weedy or wild species. Norman Ellstrand of University of California Riverside states, “The conventional expectation is that any type of transgene in the wild will be detrimental if there’s no selection pressure , because the extra machinery could lower the health.”

Lu Baorong (an ecologist at Fudan University, Shanghai) has since challenged this view. It has shown that resistance to glyphosate can provide a significant fitness boost to the weedy rice crop called Oryza Sativa even when it is not used.

Lu and colleagues altered cultivars of rice to increase its EPSP synthase. The modified rice was then crossed with a wild ancestor.

The researchers then allowed offspring cross-bred to breed with one another, creating second generation hybrids which are genetically similar to their parents, except for how many duplicates of the gene that codes for EPSP synthase. The team discovered that the ones that had greater copies of the gene that encodes EPSP synthase had more enzyme expression and also produced more tryptophan, in line with what was expected.

Researchers also discovered that the hybrids with transgenic genes had higher rates of photosynthesis. ラウンドアップ They also they grew larger flowers and shoots and produced 48-125% more seeds per plant than non-transgenic hybrids — in the absence of glyphosate.

Making the weedy rice more competitive can exacerbate the problems it causes for farmers across the globe where plots are ravaged by the pest, Lu says.

Brian Ford Lloyd, a UK plant scientist, said that the EPSP Synthase gene may be introduced in wild rice varieties. This would threaten the genetic diversity of their species, which is extremely important. This is one of the most clear examples of plausible negative effects [of GM crop] on the environment.”

There is a popular belief that genetically engineered crops with more copies or microorganisms’ genes are safer than ones containing only the genes of their owners. Lu states, “Our study shows this is not necessarily true.”

Researchers believe this finding calls for rethinking the future regulation on the use of genetically modified plants. “Some individuals are suggesting that biosafety regulation can be relaxed since we’ve achieved an incredibly high level of confidence with two decades of genetic engineering,” says Ellstrand. This study isn’t proof that new products are safe.