In the greenhouse, lines of genetically modified wheat carrying a resistance gene against the fungal disease mildew have a yield which is up to twice as high as that of control plants. In the field however, this ratio is reversed for certain, but not all, wheat lines.
A study performed within the National Research Programme «Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants» (NRP 59) concludes from these results that data from the greenhouse cannot be applied to the situation in the field and that therefore field trials are important.
Thanks to a natural resistance gene from an old Asian wheat variety genetically modified wheat is more resistant to the fungal disease mildew, also in the field. But in field trials, some wheat lines show a reduced yield or a modified ear shape, which had not been observed in the greenhouse. Such accompanying variations have been known for some time in breeding processes, but now, for the first time, researchers working at the University of Zurich have described in PLoS One (*) how significant the differences between greenhouse and field trials really are.
These side effects do not show up in some wheat lines, in others the degree of the effects varies. This might have to do with variations in the position and activity of the resistance gene.Field trials are necessary
(*) Simon Zeller, Olena Kalinina, Susanne Brunner, Beat Keller und Bernhard Schmid (2010). Transgene × Environment Interactions in Genetically Modified Wheat. PLoS One, online: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0011405National Research Programme «Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants» (NRP 59)
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