Biotech Updates

New Zealand Expands Research on GM Grasses

July 12, 2023

AgResearch, a scientific research center in New Zealand, is expanding research and development initiatives on genetically modified and gene-edited grasses. The center has included clover and endophytes to its research efforts, which initially focused on High Metabolizable Energy (HME) ryegrass. HME ryegrass has completed field trials in the US, but was temporarily withdrawn in Australia because of the complex requirements of the regulators.

HME ryegrass is a genetically modified grass that has been engineered to have higher levels of lipids in its leaves. This breakthrough has been achieved by increasing the expression of two genes that are involved in lipid production and photosynthesis. Aside from HME ryegrass, the researchers are now working on high-condensed tannin white clover, which is in the early stages but is showing promising results, such as reduction of methane emissions by 15%. They are also developing gene-edited endophytes to improve pest defense and reduce potential toxicity to animals simutaneously.

Read more from Farmers Weekly New Zealand and AgResearch.

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