Biotech Updates

Metabolically Engineered Male Sterility in Rapeseed

September 16, 2010

Male sterility is an important mechanism in hybrid breeding and genetic engineering of rapeseed (Brassica napus). To maintain the genetic uniformity and increase superior qualities of the F1 hybrid seeds, self-pollination must be prevented through male sterility. Male sterility is also essential to prevent the spread of transgenes to other related species. Due to the difficulties and limitations of several tested forms of male sterility, Thomas Engelke of University of Würzburg and colleagues presented a biotechnological alternative. They came up with metabolically engineered male sterility caused by interfering with anther-specific cell wall-bound invertase. Invertase is an important enzyme for the continuous carbohydrate supply in isolated pollen. The activity of this enzyme is reduced by interaction with antisense molecules or by expressing an invertase inhibitor. Once the activity of this enzyme is reduced, then there would be a decrease in the ability of the pollen to germinate.

The abstract of this study is available at