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In the wild, herbicide resistance might confer an advantage to plants.

Credit goes to Xiao Yang
A method of genetic modification used extensively to create crops that are resistant to herbicides has been proven to confer advantages on a weedy form of rice even in the absence of herbicide. ラウンドアップ These results suggest that such modifications can have a broad range of effects beyond the farms, and possibly in the wild. There are many kinds of crops are genetically modified to resist the glyphosate. Roundup was the first herbicide to be sold. This resistance to glyphosate allows farmers to eradicate the majority of plants without causing damage to their crop.

Glyphosate blocks the enzyme EPSP synthase which is responsible for the production of specific amino acids as well as various other molecules. It also can hinder plant growth. The genetic-modification method, employed for Roundup Ready crops by Monsanto (based in St Louis in Missouri) involves inserting genetic material into the crop to increase EPSP synthase’s output. The genes typically come from bacteria that has affected the plant.

The added EPSP synthase helps the plant resist the effects of glyphosate. Biotechnology labs have also attempted to use plants’ genes to increase the EPSP synthase enzyme, in part to make use of an American loophole that permits regulatory approval of transgenes that are not derived from bacteria-based pests. A few studies have looked into the possibility that transgenes like glyphosate-resistant genes can — once introduced to wild or weedy plants through cross-pollination increase the competitiveness of these plants in survival, reproduction and growth. Norman Ellstrand is a University of California Riverside plant geneticist. “The hypothesis is that any kind of transgene can cause disadvantage in the wild, in absence of selective pressure due to the fact that it reduces fitness,” Ellstrand said.

Lu Baorong of Fudan University in Shanghai is in the process of challenging this notion. The study demonstrates that glyphosate resistance even when it is not applied to an weedy variety of the rice crop can give a significant health boost.

ラウンドアップ The study was published in 1. Lu and his collaborators altered the genetics of cultivated rice to enhance its EPSP synthase expression , and then crossed it with a weedy cousin.

The team allowed the offspring of cross-breeding to mix with each other, resulting in second-generation hybrids genetically identical to each other , with the exception of the number of copies the gene that encodes EPSP synase. Likely, the ones with more copies expressed greater levels of the enzyme and also produced more amino acids tryptophan than their unmodified counterparts.

Researchers also found that transgenics have higher rates of flowering, more flowers and 48-125percent more seeds/plant than nontransgenics.

Making weedy rice more competitive may increase the issues it creates for farmers across the globe where plots are ravaged by pests, Lu says.

Brian Ford-Lloyd is an UK plant geneticist. He states, “If the EPSP synthase gene is introduced into wild rice species their genetic diversity could be at risk, which is crucial because the genotype that has transgene has a higher level of competition than the standard species.” “This is a prime instance of the most plausible and damaging effects of GM crops on the environment.”

The public belief that genetically-modified crops containing additional copies of their genes are more secure is challenged by this study. Lu states that “our study is not proving this to be the case.”

Researchers believe this finding calls for review of the regulations for the future on the use of genetically modified plants. “Some individuals are saying that biosafety regulations are eased because we’ve reached an extremely high level of satisfaction with the two decades of genetic engineering,” says Ellstrand. ラウンドアップ “But the research shows that new products require an unbiased examination.”