In This Issue

May 4, 2012


• Seychelles Ratifies Nagoya Protocol on Genetic Resources 

• Rice Research in Africa Provides a Strong Case for Investment 
• OFAB Marks 5th Year, Seeks to Expand Activities 
• Biotech Day at Cairo University 
• Agri-biotech Can Alleviate Food Security - ASARECA 
• Considerations in Gender-Responsive Priorities for Effective Agri-biotech Dev't in Sub-Saharan Africa 

• Sunflower Gene to Increase Soybean Yields 
• Study: Modern Hybrid Corn Uses Nitrogen More Efficiently 
• Texas AgriLife Study to Identify Wheat's Drought Tolerance Mechanisms 
• AFBF Promotes Support of New Herbicide-Tolerant Corn 
• Corn Rootworm Monitoring Tool for 2012 
• FuturaGene Finalizes Brazilian Field Trial for Yield Enhanced Eucalyptus Plantations 
• DNA Barcoding Insect Pests Could Facilitate Their Control 
• ICAC Names Cotton Researchers of the Year 
• NCGA Supports IRM Refuge 
• Monsanto Introduces Improved Lettuce Variety 

Asia and the Pacific
• Ministry Wants Hi-tech Agriculture Zones 
• Chinese Patent for Key Nitrogen Use Efficiency Technology 
• Australian OGTR Issues License for Limited and Controlled Release of GM Cotton 
• Report Says Turkey's Biosafety Law Causing Significant Economic Harm to Agri-food Chain 
• IFPRI Paper on Contribution of Bt Cotton to Long-Term Average Cotton Yields in India 
• Philippine Science Academy Hopes Supreme Court Will Side on Science of Bt Eggplant 

• Program of Complex Development of Biotechnology in Russia 2012-2020 Signed 

• Bxb1 Recombinase Mediates Site-Specific Deletion in GM Wheat 
• Evaluation of Pyramided Bt Corn for Sugarcane Borer Management 
• Spiders Not Affected by GM Maize MON 88017 

Beyond Crop Biotech
• Researchers Make STR Identification Fit for 21st Century 
• Scripps Scientists Solve Mystery of Bacterial Growth and Resistance 
• Genes Explain Smell Preference for Meat 
• Complete Genome Sequence of Oceanimonas sp. GH1 

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Seychelles is the fourth country to complete the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol will be implemented 90 days after the deposit of the 50th instrument of ratification. It will provide a greater legal certainty and transparency for providers and users of genetic resources to strengthen the opportunities for fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their use.

"In 2010, the President of Seychelles declared that over 50% of our terrestrial area is now protected area. This monumental achievement reflects the commitment of the people of Seychelles to safe guarding its natural heritage. For us the Nagoya Protocol is an important instrument for ensuring that the benefits we gain today from our biodiversity will be shared equitably by all involved especially the custodians of these natural treasures while ensuring the enjoyment of similar benefits by the generations of tomorrow," said Dr. Rolph Payet, Seychelles' Minister of Environment and Energy.

Read CBD's press release at

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AfricaRice Chair of the Board of Trustees Dr. Peter Matlon believed that rice research in Africa provides a strong case for investment. During the recent board meeting, results of various rice biotechnology work were presented and reviewed including rice for various stresses: salinity, drought, cold, iron toxicity, rice yellow mottle virus and rice blast, as well as component technologies to increase labor, nutrient and water productivities to close yield gaps and reduce risks in farmers' fields.

The 10-year strategic plan was also discussed which includes: (1) Evidence-based policy advocacy; (2) The establishment of ‘Rice Sector Development Hubs' to conduct proof-of-concept work with public and private sector partners to develop competitive, equitable and sustainable rice value chains tailored to market demand; (3) Focused research product development to enable sustainable intensification and diversification of rice-based systems (varieties, agronomic options, mechanization); and (4) Strengthening of the capacities of national rice research and extension communities and rice value-chain actors.

"Our ambition is to maintain high standards of excellence at all levels and to keep in mind that AfricaRice can achieve its mission only through strong national agricultural research systems and strategic partnerships worldwide in order to bring the best efforts of rice science to bear on the immense challenge of food security faced by Africa," said AfricaRice Director General Dr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck.

See the original news at

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The Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a US$3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant, announced during OFAB's anniversary celebrations in Accra, Ghana, seeks to enhance knowledge sharing and biotechnology awareness and build an enabling environment for decision making for agricultural biotechnology in Africa.

During the anniversary celebration, Hon. Sherry Ayittey, Ghana's Minister for Environment, Science and Technology said  that "Biotechnology has delivered substantial benefits to farmers around the world but Africa still lags behind in exploiting its potential partly due to lack of an enabling environment for the development and use of agricultural biotechnology."

Five African countries, namely, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, currently implement OFAB in collaboration with a number of partners. Monthly meetings are held in different countries, where topics on agricultural biotechnology are presented and discussed. Specific areas of discussion include understanding agricultural biotechnology and how it applies to Sub-Saharan Africa, updating stakeholders on biotechnology project developments and discussing enabling factors such as intellectual property management, liability, seed systems and commercialization.

More information, including the news release about this event is available at OFAB's website at

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The first Biotechnology Day organized by the Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University and the Egyptian Biotechnology Information Center (EBIC) celebrated the 10th anniversary of the biotechnology program on April 7, 2012. This outreach effort was designed to acquaint new students with the biotechnology program and career opportunities in the biotechnology industry.

The Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University identified the importance of biotechnology as an area with tremendous growth potential. In 2002, the program was first opened as the first biotechnology program in Egypt and the region.

A highlight on the Global Status of Commercialized GM Crops was presented indicating the importance of cultivating these crops and how that could help to alleviate world hunger.The role of scientists to disseminate the correct information about biotech crops and their benefit to small farmers, and agricultural development was demonstrated.

The students took the initiative to clarify what biotech crops are and presented a play called GM Crops vs Consumers where they talked about transgenic maize, cotton, soy bean and potato. They also applied easy to understand biotechnology techniques through a play called Houdini (Famous Magician) and Biotech. They showed the audience how to simply isolate DNA from saliva by using very simple materials that could be found in any kitchen. They also acted out in a short play about the struggle between the devil and angel concerning the ethics of using GM crops.

For more information about Biotech Day, email Dr. Naglaa Abdalla, head of the Department of Genetics, Cairo University at

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The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) believes that utilizing benefits of agricultural biotechnology can help sub-Saharan Africa countries to attain food security. "Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) provide the best solution to food insecurity and a gateway to a modernized agriculture," said Dr. Charles Mugoya, head of agro-biodiversity and biotechnology at ASARECA while speaking during the Uganda launch of the Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM 2011.

Ugandan farmers were also urged to be receptive to biotech as the crops will eventually be commercialized in the country. While speaking at the same forum, the president of Uganda National Farmers' Federation (UNFFE) Charles Ogang urged farmers to take up biotechnology and science based approaches as an avenue to feed the ever increasing population. "Biotechnology is no longer a western thing and research has shown that biotech has even been used to develop vital drugs against diseases like diabetes and measles among others," Ogang noted.

Check link to the story at

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Addressing gender issues is an important aspect in the development of agri-biotech systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Obidimma Ezezika and colleagues at Sandra Rotman Centre in Canada conducted interviews with key stakeholders in agri-biotech across sub-Saharan Africa. With the results of the interview, together with review of available literature and field observation, the team found that incorporating a gendered perspective is critical for sustainable development of agri-biotech. It is critical that women must be considered and participate equally with men in various aspects such as decision-making on trait selection of biotech crop; education for agri-biotech research; and control over biotech crop management and income generation.

Read the abstract of the study at

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Researchers in Argentina have isolated a drought resistance gene from sunflower and spliced it into soybean, aiming to improve yields of the biggest cash crop in the country. Raquel Chan and her team have identified the HAHB4 gene that makes sunflowers resistant to dry conditions and implanted it in rockress flowering plants whose resistance to drought increased. An agreement with Argentina's Bioceres will allow Chan's team to exploit the gene as Bioceres has conducted previous tests on soybean, wheat, and corn.

When HAHB4 is inserted into soybean, wheat or corn, yields increased between 10 to 100 percent, depending on crop quality and local conditions. "The tougher the environment, the more advantageous the transgenic plant," said Chan, who heads the Agrobiotechnology Institute at the National University of the Coast.

The Argentinian government hopes to license the seeds by 2015, as supporters see a boost in soybean productivity in the country, particularly after a severe drought cut Argentina's soybean production by more than 30 percent.

For more information, read the news release at

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Purdue University scientists reported that the current hybrid corn varieties are more nitrogen-efficient than the old varieties. This finding is based on 72 years of public sector research data which was reviewed by the scientists.

Doctoral student Ignacio Ciampitti and team discovered that yield of corn continued to increase even if there were less spaces between the plants. The plants sustained enough nitrogen even under higher plant densities.

"We are getting clues on how plants have already improved nitrogen use efficiency, and we will use that to push for further increases," Ciampitti said. "We finally feel like we're shedding some light on what traits plant breeders should select for to increase nitrogen efficiency even more."

The next goal of the researchers is to know how water use efficiency and nitrogen use efficiency can be combined to develop corn with better tolerance to environmental stresses.


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Texas AgriLife Research scientists led by geneticist Shuyu Liu are working on a study that will identify the key genetic regulators for wheat's drought tolerance mechanism. Liu's team will use a set of physiological and molecular tools to discover the mechanisms of drought adaptation and will focus on three widely planted wheat varieties in the US High Plains namely, TAM 111, TAM 112, and TAM 304.

The AgriLife scientists' observations and the physiological traits they have collected show that these three cultivars respond well to water stress. TAM 111 is good at both irrigated and dryland, TAM 112 is better in prolonged dry conditions, and TAM 304 performs well if irrigated. The wheat was planted in November last year and includes two drought-tolerant varieties and one drought-susceptible variety. The experiment is now at harvesting stage and Liu and his team has collected samples from different plant growth stages for laboratory analysis.

More details about this study can be read at

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The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) encouraged the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to grant non-regulated status to a new variety of herbicide-tolerant corn. According to AFBF, the approval of the DAS-40278-9, the regulatory name of the genetically engineered (GE) corn variety, will offer farmers an alternative to eliminate persistent weeds and respond to potential  herbicide resistance.

AFBF also mentioned in their letter to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that APHIS has done an excellent job in completing comprehensive plant and environmental assessments that show DAS-40278-9 as "unlikely to pose a plant pest risk".

This new corn variety is tolerant to the herbicide 2,4-D which has been used in the U.S. for 60 years to control weeds in crops. AFBF notes that in order to maintain the country's international competitiveness and also to achieve productivity that would meet the needs of the 21st century, the agricultural sector of the U.S. must remain on the cutting edge of technology.

For more information about this new technology go to

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Farmers in the United States will be aided by a corn rootworm forecasting tool in determining the annual corn rootworm hatch and migration patterns of corn earworm and western bean cutworm moths for 2012. The tool was developed by climatologists and meteorologists and analyzes moth trapping data and western bean cutworm.

"This tool can help farmers make strategic decisions about better timing for pesticide applications. It can also help farmers in choosing the right traited corn hybrids to meet their specific needs, such as those containing Monsanto's Genuity® corn traits which protect against insect damage and protect yields," says Matt Kirkpatrick, Monsanto Corn Traits Marketing Manager.

Farmers can now log onto the site to learn more about the tool. To see the news, check-out

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A continuing field trial will be conducted by FuturaGene for its yield enhanced genetically modified Eucalyptus tree. The approval of its fourth regulatory field trial for enhanced Eucalyptus plantation is designed to evaluate field agronomic properties and biosafety of the genetically modified event. FuturaGene, the world leader in woody crops has planted three regulatory trials over the last three months.

The field trial will be the culmination of a series of regulated selection, evaluation and biosafety trials initiated in 2006. Upon successful completion of the regulatory trials the company will submit a dossier to Brazil's regulatory agency CTNBio to deploy its yield enhanced eucalyptus in the country.

Dr. Stanley Hirsch, CEO of FuturaGene, said, "Over the past six years we have successfully demonstrated that our technology delivers sustainably increased yields for plantation forestry. This pioneering fourth trial is a key step towards the commercial deployment of our first plantation product designed to meet the ever increasing demands for energy at a time of declining land and water resources."

For more on the news, see

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In a study by Matthew Greenstone at the Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland, DNA barcodes was used to identify effective insect predators to control the Colorado potato beetle. The insect is the most damaging insect pest of potatoes in the Eastern United States. Its control using predatory insects has been explored earlier, the present study allowed the identification of the specific predator using barcodes, by following the time required for different insects to digest their prey. Scientists sequence part of an organism's genome and produce a barcode from it.

The paper published in Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata reported how the four potato beetle predators which were collected and fed with lab-raised potato beetles were studied to determine how long the pest's barcoded DNA could be detected in the predator's guts. The results find application in possibly guiding growers on the most effective strategies for controlling the pest. Worldwide efforts in DNA barcoding of plants and animals are currently underway to catalogue the diversity of life on Earth.

See the news at

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The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) has named two winners for the 2012 Cotton Researcher of the Year Award. Dr. Andrew Patterson from the USA and Dr. Yusuf Zafar from Pakistan are the 2012 awardees.

Dr. Patterson heads the University of Georgia's Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory (PGML), using genomics to do research on crop improvement, plant biodiversity and molecular evolution. Dr. Zafar is the Chief Scientist and Director General of the Agri and Biotechnology Division of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission. Both scientists have extensively published scientific papers in national and international journals.

The award is given yearly since 2009 to help increase awareness of the importance of research to the cotton industry, and is eligible only to researchers from ICAC member countries. A selection committee is comprised of five anonymous judges outside the ICAC Secretariat.

For more details about ICAC and the awards, visit

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"It is vitally important that every actor involved with advanced seed traits acts as a good steward at all times," said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Chairman Bart Schott. This statement came in the wake of increased and progressive planting of biotech crops across the United States.

NCGA is offering an Insect Resistance Management refuge calculator to easily clarify refuge options for the development of appropriate management plan for all growers. The tool is a product of the NCGA's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team to obtain proper stewardship of biotechnology traits. It was designed to include all commercial Bt products on the market and features a trait selection process so that farmers can run several planting scenario on a field-by-field basis.

See the news release at

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Misionero Vegetables, together with Seminis® Vegetable Seeds partnered to bring consumers the new Frescada™, a U.S.- grown cross between iceberg and Romaine lettuce. Frescada™ offers the consumers a variety with the same sweet taste and crispy texture of iceberg lettuce, only with improved flavor, nutritional content, and a deeper green color.

Read more about Frescada™ lettuce at

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Asia and the Pacific

Vietnam targets to promote the use of advanced agricultural technologies and develop more high agricultural zones toward 2020. To this end, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong will set to finalize and submit a plan for high tech agricultural zones to the Vietnam government for approval in June. Some biotech projects are already being implemented in Ho Chi Minh City and some others in Hanoi, Lam Dong, Phu Yen, and Nghe An.

"However, although there is already an existing policy or Law on High Technology for the promotion in these industries, detailed guidelines are still lacking," Deputy Head of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment Nguyen Tan Hinh said. Deputy Minister Bong added that "hi-tech agriculture is a complicated industry and hasty, massive development should be avoided." Hopefully, the upcoming plan that also includes the missing guideline will help increase the application of modern technology in agricultural production in accordance with the scheme approved in 2010.

See the original article at

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The Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) Technology of Arcadia Biosciences Inc. has been issued a key patent by the State Intellectual Property Office of China. The technology will allow farmers to use significantly less nitrogen fertilizer on their crops and maintain high yields as demonstrated in country trials in important grain crops such as rice and wheat.

In addition, farmers will be able to claim carbon credits from reduced fertilizer use. Nitrogen fertilizer, an essential element in modern agriculture has not been utilized efficiently and contributes to greenhouse gas, which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. With this technology, farmers in China will be extremely benefited by reducing greenhouse gas emission and enhanced food security in the country.

See the news at

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Upon the termination period (April 2012) for the call to comment on the Risk Assessment and Risk Management (RARMP) made by the Australian Office of Gene Technology, a decision has been made to issue a license to Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd to conduct a limited and controlled release of genetically modified (GM) cotton. Eleven GM cotton varieties with insect resistance and herbicide tolerance will be tested in six sites per year in Narrabri Shire (NSW), Wyndham-East Kimberly (WA), and Central Highlands (Qld), between May 2012 and May 2015.

The trial will be conducted to assess the agronomic performance of the GM cotton varieties under field conditions, and to produce seed for use in further studies or releases. The GM cotton will not be permitted to enter human food or animal feed.

See the news at$FILE/dir113rarmpcon.pdf.

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A new Economic Impact Assessment of Turkey's Biosafety Law finds that the way in which this law is being implemented has resulted in substantial negative economic impacts for the important Turkish importing, feed and food manufacturing and livestock production sectors.

"There is clear evidence of major economic damage and market disruption having been caused by the way in which Turkey's Biosafety Law is being implemented," said Graham Brookes of UK-based PG Economics Ltd. lead author of the report. "This situation can be expected to get progressively worse, threatening the viability of many Turkish businesses (notably small-and medium-sized enterprises) and risking the export of jobs and investment from the country, unless a timely and science-based Turkish GMO approval system is operated."

Some key findings of the report are:

  • The implementation of the Law has caused considerable trade and market disruption, which to date amounts to over $0.8 billion;
  •  The on-going annual cost (assuming no change to current policy) can reasonably be expected to be between $0.7 billion and $1 billion (and could be higher);
  •  With an expected widening discrepancy between the timing and nature of new GM event approvals in Turkey compared to major cereal and oilseed raw material supplying countries, and the rapidly-increasing ‘pipeline' of new traits and combinations of existing/new ‘stacked' traits being approved for use in global agriculture, the negative impact is likely to get progressively worse.

A version of the report is available at For additional information, contact Graham Brookes at

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A discussion paper released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) examined the contribution of Bt cotton adoption to long- term average cotton yields in India using a panel data analysis of production variables in nine Indian cotton-producing states from 1975 to 2009.

The results show that Bt cotton contributed 19 percent of total yield growth over time, or between 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent per percentage adoption every year since its introduction. Besides Bt cotton, the use of fertilizer and the increased adoption of hybrid seeds appear to have contributed to the yield increase over time. However, if official Bt cotton adoption contributed to increased yield after 2005, unofficial Bt cotton might also have been part of the observed increase of yields starting in 2002, the year of its official introduction in India.

Check out the publication at

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President of the Philippine National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Dr. Emil Q. Javier, representing the esteemed scientists in the Philippines, reaffirmed their full support to the ongoing research on the fruit and shoot borer resistant Bt eggplant in the country.

Dr. Javier said that the Academy is confident that the Supreme Court will not act rashly but rather consider the scientific side regarding the petition for the writ of kalikasan and writ of continuing mandamus recently filed by a group of NGOs against the conduct of Bt eggplant multi-location field trials.

Dr. Javier added that the filing of the petition is not of national interest, and that the Academy, together with the University of the Philippines and reputable scientists from the local and global community, strongly support agricultural biotechnology. Contrary to the baseless allegations of the petitioners, Bt eggplant is potentially the best environmentally friendly technology for eggplant production, Javier asserts.

The NAST is the highest S&T policy advisory and recognition body of the scientific community in the country.

For more information about the development of Bt eggplant in the Philippines, visit or e-mail

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The Russian government has recently put in place the "Complex Program of Biotechnology Development in Russia (2012 – 2020)" with the signing of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The Program aims to put Russia in the leading position in biotechnology and to make the country globally competitive in bioeconomy, nanotechnology and information technology.

The program shall be implemented  successively in two phases: 2012-2015 and 2016-2020, and will require a total of 1.18 trillion rubles (USD40 billion). The Russian Federation will develop plant varieties and hybrids which are resistant to drought, diseases, herbicides, pests, and adverse environmental conditions using post-genomic technologies (methods of breeding based on the use of molecular markers) and genetic engineering.

The original news can be viewed at

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Wheat is one of the most important food crops across the globe. However, there have been no GM wheat varieties available in the market up to the present. The development of biotech wheat could benefit from the use of site-specific recombination systems that involve efficient excision of marker genes used to identify transformants. Thus, USDA scientist James Thomson and colleagues developed a recombination system derived from Mycobacterium smegmati bacteriophage Bxb1. The system is designed to remove the marker gene in GM wheat.

Based on the findings published in the Plant Molecular Biology Reporter, the research team confirmed that Bxb1 recombinase is heritable in GM wheat plants and performs site-specific excision. Therefore, the system is a useful tool for generating marker-free GE plants. Development of wheat lines capable of efficiently excising unneeded marker genes eliminates one potential impediment to commercialization of GM wheat.

Read the abstract at

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David Wangila from Louisiana State University evaluated the performance of Bt corn with pyramided Bt proteins for resistance to sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis). Through leaf tissue bioassay and greenhouse trials, Wangila determined the survival and plant injury of diffrent sugarcabe borer genotypes (Cry1Ab-susceptible, Cry1Ab-resistant and Cry1Ab–heterozygous) on Bt corn hybrids containing single and pyramided Bt genes. Results of the greenhouse trials and the bioassay showed that the survivorship of the sugarcane borer was low in Bt corn hybrids indicating efficacy of the hybrids against all three insect genotypes.

Wangila also assessed the larval movement in various planting patterns of non-Bt and Bt plants. Results showed that the larvae could move from infected plants at least four plants away, and from the infested rows to adjacent rows. With these findings, it is confirmed that pyramiding of Bt proteins is an efficient strategy in the management of sugarcane borer.

For more information, read the full paper at

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Biotech maize MON 88017 has stacked traits for glyphosate tolerance and western corn rootworm (WCR) resistance. A team of scientists headed by O. Habuštová from České Budějovice, Czech Republic, evaluated the possible environmental impacts of MON88017 by comparing communities of spiders in plots planted with biotech maize for 3 years, non-GM counterpart with or without insecticide application, and two unrelated maize cultivars.

Results of the statistical analysis showed that biotech maize had no effect on the abundance and biodiversity of spiders. The composition and the size of the spider communities varied in every year of the study implying the effect of weather and field fertilization with organic matter.

Read the more about the results at;jsessionid=5B5DB787E4E6A01249F2DEA6DB836F59.d01t04?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage.

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Beyond Crop Biotech

Back in 1998, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) introduced Short Tandem Repeat (STR) identification to recognize bodies or people and create their profiles. The FBI scans a DNA sample for at least 13 STRs, which are collections of repeated two to six nucleotide-long sequences that are scattered around the genome. The reason why STRs are ideal for creating a unique DNA fingerprint is that the number of repeats in STRs can mutate quickly making each set of these genetic markers different from every other person's.

Now, researchers from Whitehead Institute improved the STR identification, to fit in the present needs of geneticists. The researchers have created lobSTR, which is a three-step system that accurately and simultaneously profiles more than 100,000 STRs from a human genome sequence in one day.

Yaniv Erlich, a researcher in Whitehead Institute, said that with lobSTR, access is now provided to thousands of quickly changing markers that scientists could not get before. This newly opened door can be used in medical genetics, population genetics, and forensics.

For further information about the lobSTR research, follow the link below:

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Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute are able to explain the chemical pathway that allows bacteria to form clusters known as biofilms. This could lead to the development of new treatments that will block biofilm formation which are involved in several forms of human infection and help bacteria resist antibiotics.

Scripps Research President and CEO Michael Marletta said that there are about 80 percent of human pathogens that form biofilms during some part of its life cycle. "In this study, we have detailed for the first time the signaling pathway from nitric oxide to the sensor through cellular regulators and on the biological output, biofilm formation," he added. Biofilm formation makes the cells in the interior relatively protected from the effects of natural or pharmaceutical antibiotics, thus difficult to kill with conventional treatments. In sufficient quantity, nitric oxide is toxic to bacteria and it could set off the bacteria to enter in its ‘defensive state', as in the biofilm. The Marletta lab focused on how to pull nitric oxide's trigger.

Interactive genes for proteins are often found adjacent to each other, which is why the researchers were able to infer that there is a connection between bacterial Haeme-Nitric Oxide/Oxygen (H-NOX) domain and an enzyme called histidine kinase.

The experiments revealed that histidine kinase transfers a phosphate group to response regulators. These work together to control the biofilm formation. Each regulator has a complementary role, which makes for an oddly complex system. These roles involve activating of gene expression, controlling of the activity of an enzyme producing a bacterial messenger molecule critical in biofilm formation, and lastly, tuning of the degree of activity of the second regulator.

For more details regarding this study's findings, read a news release at

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Scientists at Duke University reported that around 70 percent of people have two working copies of a gene linked to an odor receptor (OR7D4) involved in detecting androstenone, a compound present in male pork meat. Individuals with one or no functional copy of the gene can tolerate the smell of the compound much better than those with two copies.

"I was surprised at how cleanly this experiment showed who smelled what," Duke associate professor Hiroaki Matsunami said. "The results showed that people with two copies of the functional variant of the gene for that odor receptor thought that the meat smelled worse with higher levels of androstenone added."

The study addressed the concern about banning of a castration method for swine in Europe. The researchers were curious if consumers would respond to meat from noncastrated males. Noncastrated pigs were found to have higher androstrone levels than the castrated pigs.

For more details about the study, read the original article at

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The Gram-negative, rod-shaped Oceanimonas sp. GK1, isolated from Gavkhouni Wetland in Iran, belongs to the Aeromonadaceae family. It is a motile aerobic bacterium which can tolerate up to 12% NaCl, grows at 10 to 45°C (optimum, 35°C) and pH 6 to 10 (optimum, 8), and produces large amounts of poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) as a carbon and energy reservoir under unbalanced growth conditions. PHB is a biodegradable and renewable biosynthetic polymer which can be used in medicine, tissue engineering, and packaging materials. Despite these features the Oceanimonas species are relatively poorly characterized in terms of genetic and genome characteristics. The whole genome sequence of this strain is the first report of a completely sequenced and annotated genome from the Oceanimonas genus.

The whole-genome sequencing resulted in a single circular chromosome of 3,514,537 bp and two plasmids 8,462 and 4,245 bp in length. The complete Oceanimonas sp. GK1 genome has been deposited in GenBank under the accession no.CP003171 for the chromosome and CP003172 and CP003173 for the two plasmids. The genome project data are also available at GenBank under the Genome Project identification number (ID) 68171.

See the article release at

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