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Crop Biotech Update

Wheat DNA Fragment Reduces Pollen Transmission in GM Maize

September 28, 2007

While biotechnology offers great potential for crop improvement by enabling foreign gene products to be expressed to crops, it has also created a need to control the inadvertent genetic spread of transgenes by pollen transmission. A number of methods for controlling transgene dispersal by pollen have been proposed. Researchers from the Iowa State University demonstrated a new way of controlling transgene flow to the environment.

By inserting the Glu-1Dx5 gene from wheat which controls pollen viability, the researchers decreased pollen transmission in transgenic maize. Transgenes of interest could be co-transformed with the wheat DNA fragment so that the two transgenes are genetically linked. The researchers demonstrated that the DNA fragment can be used to control pollen transmission of a herbicide resistance transgene genetically linked to it. One of the advantages of this system is that any transgene can be used together with Glu-1Dx5. However, since the transgenic plants would have to be propagated as heterozygotes (possessing two different alleles for the same gene), only half of the grain produced would be transgenic.

 Read the abstract at or the full paper at