Crop Biotech Update

Development of GM Pears with Increased Shelf Life

June 1, 2007

Transgenic pears were developed by researchers in Japan and the United States with the goal of improving the shelf life by reducing ethylene production. The researchers obtained the transgenic plants through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system using leaf discs, the first time the technique is used in pears.

The researchers transformed the pear cultivar ‘La France’ and have determined that transgenics plants have an 85% reduction in ethylene production in in vitro shoots. The in vitro selection method allowed them to select the most promising lines at the early stages without waiting for the pears to bear fruits.

The reduction in ethylene production is believed to be a good indicator that the fruits will have an increased shelf life. An antisense cDNA that encode an ACC oxidase (ACO) gene was used during transformation. The complete paper, published in Plant Science, can be accessed by subscribers at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2007.03.014.