Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Investigate Effect of Bt Cotton on Microorganism Communities

July 13, 2012

The effect of GM plants on ecological and food biosafety is one of the major concerns of the public on the commercialization of biotech crops. Thus, Jiangang Pan from Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with other scientists, examined the changes of bacterial and fungal community compositions in above-ground surfaces of Bt cotton (SGK321) through molecular fingerprinting. They gathered data from four major growth stages of the cotton plant: seeding, budding, blossoming, and boll opening.

Results showed that the diversity of bacteria was reduced only during the budding stage, based on Shannon index calculation. Minimal increases in fungal diversity and abundance were evident in all stages except during seeding. The team also found a possible association between the fungal community and the expression of the Bt protein (Cry1Ac) as detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) at seeding and budding stages. However, the expression of Cry1Ac is not the most influential factor in changes in microorganism communities on the above-ground surfaces of Bt cotton plants. They concluded that the most important factors in the bacterial and fungal communities are the seasonal and temporal parameters.

Read the abstract at http://www.academicjournals.org/ajmr/PDF/Pdf2012/5July/Pan%20et%20al.pdf.