Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Reducing the risks of GM micro-organisms

09.12.2003


Scientists have developed a system to increase the safety of genetically modified (GM) microbes for release into the environment.



Release of GM micro-organisms is a cause of great concern to many, because the microbes could pass on genes for disease or other harmful traits to others. But, a team of researchers from Spain and Germany believes that it is possible to reduce this risk.

Dr. Eduardo Díaz of Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas-CSIC in Madrid and his colleagues have developed GM microbes that have containment systems based on different lethal functions.


“Lethal functions are any kind of molecule, usually proteins, that causes killing of the microbial cells,” explains Dr Díaz.

In the GM microbe, the lethal functions associated with the GM trait are not active. However, if this trait is transferred to a different microbe, the associated lethal functions become active and the recipient microbe dies (gene containment). Lethal functions can also be activated in the GM microbe upon completion of the biotechnological process by a specific signal from the environment, such as root exudates, temperature, or toxic pollutants (biological containment).

However, microbes can mutate, becoming resistant to the toxic effect of the lethal function. This leads to survival of a small fraction of the GM microbial population, which can multiply and then spread, uncontrolled. Avoiding the spread of potentially harmful traits is vital if GM microbes are to be used for our benefit.

Simply increasing the number of lethal functions helps to overcome this. “It is easier to inactivate one lethal function, than to inactivate two or more,” says Dr Díaz. However, this only works if the lethal functions (proteins) are different, if the functions act on different targets within the microbial cell, and if the functions are controlled separately. To become resistant to each individual lethal function would require numerous mutations.

Safe GM organisms would be of great benefit in applications where large amounts of microbes are needed, such as degrading pollutants on contaminated land, or for the development of live vaccines to prevent disease.

Faye Jones | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sgm.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>