GM Corn Summons Nematodes to Kill Voracious RootwormsAugust 7, 2009
Researchers from the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland have developed genetically modified corn plants that resist the dreaded Western corn rootworm by emitting a volatile chemical that summons insect-killing parasitic roundworms - a natural embodiment of the saying "my enemy's enemy is my friend."
Plants emit an array of volatile compounds when attacked by herbivorous insects. These compounds serve a variety of functions, including the attraction of the insects' natural enemies, or what scientists call "indirect defense". Root worm-infested corn plants, for instance, release (E)-beta-caryophyllene (EβC) to attract nematodes. But researchers found that after decades of breeding, most North American corn varieties no longer emitted the sesquiterpene and had lost the ability to attract beneficial nematodes.
Working with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, the Neuchâtel researchers introduced an EβC-synthase gene from oregano to a corn variety that normally does not emit the compound. Field trials of the GM corn variety were then conducted at the University of Missouri's Bradford Research and Extension Center in Columbia. The researchers found that in rootworm-infested field plots in which nematodes were released, the transgenic plants suffered significantly less root damage and had 60 percent fewer Diabrotica beetles emerge than in untransformed lines.
"Instead of using insecticides, the use of natural enemies of the corn rootworm could be much more environmentally friendly," says Jörg Degenhardt, a researcher involved in the project. Although the researchers were not able to develop a commercially viable crop, they showed that it is possible to genetically enhance biological pest control.
The paper published by PNAS is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1073_pnas.0906365106 For more information, read an article released by the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology at http://www.ice.mpg.de/news/prelease/Pressem_Degenhardt2009_en.pdf
Biotech Updates is a weekly newsletter of ISAAA, a not-for-profit organization. It is distributed for free to over 22,000 subscribers worldwide to inform them about the key developments in biosciences, especially in biotechnology. Your support will help us in our mission to feed the world with knowledge. You can help by donating as little as $10.
See more articles:
News from Around the World
- FAO Proposes New Food Security Structure for World Summit Deliberation
- Syngenta Acquires Monsanto's Global Sunflower Seed Business
- Impact Assessment of Herbicide Resistant Rice in the Sahel
- Kenya: Pigeon Peas, the New Maize?
- U.S. State Secretary Clinton Reiterates Support to African Agriculture
- Genomic Sequence of Waterhemp Weed Completed
- BASF and CTC Collaborate on Sugarcane R&D
- EnrichTM Increases Phosphorous Availability for Cereals
- ARS Helps Preserve Indigenous Crops in Ecuador
- Monsanto and Twistdx Partnership for Rapid Diagnostic Tests of Biotech Crops
- Monsanto and Dow’s Eight-Trait Corn Gets Japanese Import Nod
- Flood-Tolerant Rice Variety Released in the Philippines
- Malaysian Biotech Corp Releases BioInvestors White Paper on Agribiotech
- BIOTEC Thailand Develops Bioprocess for Casava Feedstock
- Starch Synthesis Genes in Thai Rice Starch
- GM Poplar Trial Starts in Belgium
- EFSA to Re-evaluate GM Maize MON810
- GM Corn Summons Nematodes to Kill Voracious Rootworms
- Stable Plastid Transformation in Eggplant
- Unlocking the Genetic Secrets of Maize
- Conference on Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology
- EFSA Releases Paper that Aims to Harmonize GMO Data Analysis
- Revised Pocket Ks Now Available for Download
Read the latest:
- Biotech Updates (December 7, 2023)
- Gene Editing Supplement (November 29, 2023)
- Gene Drive Supplement (February 22, 2023)
Subscribe to BU: