Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First Wild Canola Plants With Modified Genes Found in United States

09.08.2010
Scientists at the University of Arkansas and their colleagues have found populations of wild plants with genes from genetically modified canola in the United States.

Globally, canola can interbreed with 40 different weed species, and 25 percent of those weeds can be found in the United States. These findings raise questions about the regulation of herbicide resistant weeds and about how these plants might compete with others in the wild.

Graduate student Meredith Schafer will present the group’s findings Friday, Aug. 6, at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“We really don’t know what the consequences of the gene escape are,” said Schafer. “We don’t know what these plants are going to do.”

The research originated when Schafer and Cynthia Sagers, professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas, spotted some pretty yellow flowers in a ditch near Warehouse Foods in Langdon, N.D. As part of another research project, they had some portable strips that test for genetically modified proteins found in canola – proteins that convey herbicide resistance to crop plants. The strips work much like those in a pregnancy test; Schafer and Sagers crushed plant leaves in water and added the test strip, which would develop one line if it tested negative for the modified gene and two lines if it tested positive for a modified protein. Their test strips could detect the protein that conveys Roundup resistance; they also could detect the protein that conveys resistance to Liberty Link, another herbicide used on canola.

Schafer and Sagers determined at once that the parking lot weeds contained transgenic genes.

“Immediately we knew we needed to investigate it further,” Sagers said.

They filled a car with test strips and set out on a road trip in a red Ford Explorer, traveling on highways east and west across North Dakota, stopping every five miles on the highways to look for roadside weeds. They counted canola plants in a 50-meter transect, photographed the locations, took GPS statistics, took a plant sample, and tested the samples in the front seat. They then collected and pressed the sampled plant and drove to the next location.

“We traveled over 3,000 miles to complete the sampling,” Schafer said. Some of the sites had densely packed plants, with 1,000 specimens in a 50-meter space. “They spray these roadsides with herbicides, and canola is the only thing still growing.”

They found wild canola in about 46 percent of the sites along the highway, either growing on the side of the road or in cracks in the highway. About 83 percent of the weedy canola they tested contained transgenic material — that is, they contained herbicide resistance genes from genetically modified canola. Further, some of the plants contained resistance to both herbicides – a combination of transgenic traits that had not been developed in canola crops.

“That’s not commercially available. That has to be happening in the wild,” Schafer said. “That leads us to believe that these wild populations have become established populations. Technically, these plants are not supposed to be able to compete in the wild.”

Current farming practices may quickly make the problem worse. Each year tens of thousands of acres of canola go un-harvested in the field. As a consequence, an enormous reservoir of seed is created, which can then spread into wild populations.

“Once this happens, it would be difficult to get rid of these weeds using current herbicides,” Sagers said.

While the problem looms large in North Dakota, Sagers says the message is a global one. The world recently hit a milestone, where more than 50 percent of the earth is covered in crops used for food or forage. Domesticated plants have wild cousins that often are considered weeds, and sometimes these plants can still cross breed, creating a high potential for herbicide and pesticide resistance to show up where it isn’t wanted.

“Things can escape from cultivation, and we need to be careful about what we stick into plants,” Sagers said.

In addition to Schafer and Sagers, researchers on the project included postdoctoral researchers Jason P. Londo at the University of Arkansas; Andrew X. Ross and Steven E. Travers from North Dakota State University; Peter K. van de Water of California State University in Fresno, Calif.; and Connie A. Burdick and E. Henry Lee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Barbara Jaquish | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>