Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Reducing the risks of GM micro-organisms


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:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

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: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>