University of Arizona Scientist Develops Aflatoxin-free Corn Using RNA from Fungus
University of Arizona (UA) plant geneticist, Monica Schmidt, genetically engineered a variety of corn to turn off the ability of a plant fungus to make aflatoxin. Her findings are published in the open-access journal, Science Advances.
Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin produced by fungus Aspergillus. When aflatoxin is ingested by humans and animals, it can lead to hepatotoxicity, liver cancer, kwashiorkor, Reye's syndrome, and impaired growth.
Schmidt and colleagues embedded a snippet of ribonucleic acid (RNA) from Aspergillus into the corn plant. The host plant and fungus swap tiny pieces of genetic information during infection leading to the silencing or turning off of the ability of the fungus to produce aflatoxin. This technique is 100 percent effective as shown in the trials, producing aflatoxin-free corn kernels.
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)