Biotech Updates

GM Pea Seeds Provide Protection Against Poultry Disease

September 11, 2009

Researchers in Germany have developed a genetically modified pea variety that expresses antibodies against coccidiosis, an important disease in chicken caused by protozoans of genus Eimeria. The diarrheal disease causes annual losses of US$ 2.4 billion to the poultry industry worldwide. Vaccination strategies with avirulent or attenuated Eimeria strains have been routinely used for 50 years, but the large scale production of parasites is relatively laborious and expensive. Feeding poultry with antibody expressing transgenic crop seeds is a cost-effective approach to prevent parasitic infections, the scientists believe.

Sergej Kiprijanov and colleagues found that chickens infected with the parasite and allowed to eat the antibody-containing pea seeds, shredded into their feed, were significantly less likely to contract coccidiosis than chickens fed ordinary pea seeds in their fodder. In a press release, Kiprijanov said that, "Compared with methods of active vaccination, the passive immunization strategy described here is an easy and non-invasive method to use in commercial settings. The cost of production is comparatively low, utilizing current agriculture technologies, and the strategy can be used in combination with other antiparasitic agents."

The open access paper published by BMC Biotechnology is available for download at Visit for more information