Biotech Updates

Stable Plastid Transformation in Eggplant

August 7, 2009

Scientists from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute were successful in creating the world's first transplastomic eggplant. KC Bansal and colleagues used the biolistic technique to integrate the aadA gene, which encodes for resistance to the antibiotics spectinomycin and streptomycin, in the chloroplast genome. "The development of transplastomic technology may be useful for introducing agronomically and biotechnologically relevant traits into eggplant," wrote the researchers in a paper published by Transgenic Research. Eggplant is an important vegetable crop in many tropical countries, particularly in India where it is grown on nearly 550,000 hectares.

Although successful plastid transformation has been reported in some plants, particularly in soybean, oilseed rape, sugarbeet, cotton and lettuce, it is routinely possible only in tobacco.

Plastid transformation offers several advantages compared to traditional transgenic technologies, including high protein expression levels, transgene containment and absence of transgene instability effects and gene silencing. The production of transplastomic eggplant with maternal inheritance of the transgene could solve problems related to out crossing between GM and conventional varieties or its wild relatives.

The researchers are now looking at the possibility of expressing the Bt (cry) genes in the eggplant plastid genome, providing an effective built-in control for the fruit and shoot borer. The researchers noted that the development of transplastomic Bt eggplant would eliminate environmental biosafety concerns.

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