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Could the Tide Be Turning for Transgenic Wheat?

Could the Tide Be Turning for Transgenic Wheat?: GMO wheat under field trials in Australia's Victoria state contains genes from plants such as corn and moss as well as yeast, Spangenberg said on July 2. Test results show the transgenic grain generated a 20 percent gain in yield compared with non-GMO crops under drought stress, according to German Spangenberg, head of Australia's Victorian AgriBiosciences Center. Spangenberg said, "This is a very significant increase. GM wheat for drought tolerance will be important to sustain agricultural production into the future." DuPont Co., the world's second-biggest producer of seeds, plans to engineer wheat and rice to boost yields as rising demand lifts grain prices to records. Growers and buyers have asked Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont to develop higher-yielding wheat varieties to help keep pace with output of crops such as corn.

Food concerns prompt China to prioritize GM rice (Feature): Beijing - China's leaders decided in early July to go all-out to develop genetically modified organisms (GMOs), prompted by rising prices and
concerns that the nation of 1.3 billion people may become more reliant on expensive exports. Agricultural scientists at China's Zhejiang University announced in March that they had developed a way to create 'selectively terminable' GM rice, a breakthrough which they hope will lead to the industrialization of GM rice seeds. The scientists said the pest- and disease-resistant GM rice plants can easily be killed through genetically conditioned high sensitivity to a specific herbicide,
eliminating concerns about them becoming wild or cross-pollinating with normal rice plants.
http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/business/news/article_1416999.php /

Controlled Release of GM Banana in Australia: The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has received an approval from Australia's Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) for the limited and controlled release of up to 17 banana lines genetically modified for disease resistance. The release will take place in Cassowary Coast, Queensland on a maximum total area of 1.4 ha between July 2008 and April 2010. The GM lines contain the ced-9 gene from the nematode C. elegans that is
expected to provide the plants protection against pathogenic microorganisms. The gene encodes a protein that prevents plant cells from undergoing programmed cell death (apoptosis) in response to
pathogen attack. The banana lines also contain the antibiotic selectable marker gene nptII.

Biotech Research for Profitable Cultivation of Palm Trees: Researchers at India's Centre for Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) have used biotechnology to achieve a breakthrough in distinguishing between male and female palmyrah plants in the nursery. The palms are slow
growing perennial and have no distinguishing features to identify the sex until flowering, which is usually after 12 to 15 years. Using the molecular marker technology,  Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique, DNA segments linked to sex  determination in dioecious palmyrah were identified.

Insights on How Plant Roots Develop: The exact mechanism of how plants regulate root formation has fascinated and frustrated scientists since the nineteenth century. The way that new lateral roots are formed and grow is vital to the integrity and architecture of the root system. Lateral roots originate deep within the parent root and must emerge through intervening layers of tissues before entering the soil. A group of international scientists reported how lateral root emergence is achieved in a paper published by Nature Cell Biology. The scientists found out that new lateral roots reprogram the cells that overlay them, causing them to separate and enabling the new root to emerge. The developing roots secrete the phytohormone auxin to 'manipulate' adjacent cells. The hormone activates a group of cell wall remodeling enzymes that promotes the separation of overlaying cells. The scientists have
also identified the genes that control this process. Malcolm Bennett, researcher from the University of Nottingham and one of the authors of the study, said that the discovery might enable the development of crops with improved root architecture.


The abstract of the paper is available at

Transgenic Rice Resistant to Rice Blast and Sheath Blight: A group of scientists from the University of Bagoda in India has developed transgenic rice varieties resistant to the rice blast and sheath blight,
devastating fungal diseases that affect rice productivity worldwide. The scientists introduced the gene Dm-AMP1 coding for an anti-fungal defensin from dahlia. Expression levels of Dm-AMP1 ranged from 0.43% to 0.57% of total soluble protein in transgenic plants. Constitutive expression of the transgene suppresses the growth of the rice blast and sheath blight causal organisms by 84% and 72%, respectively. The recombinant protein was found to be specifically expressed in the apoplastic region (diffusional spaces between cells) of the plant tissues where they bind to interact with the fungal membrane leading to membrane destabilization, and ultimately to reduced proliferation of the fungal pathogen.