Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Spontaneous GMOs in nature

Genetically modified plants can come about by natural means. A research group at Lund University in Sweden has described the details of such an event among higher plants. It is likely that the gene transfer was mediated by a parasite or a pathogen.

The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is heated. One of the arguments against them is that it is unnatural to mix genes from different species. However, research in Lund, Sweden, shows that genetic modification can take place naturally among wild plants.

“In our research group we have suspected this for some time, and now my colleague Pernilla Vallenback has used DNA analysis to show that this is indeed the case”, says Professor Bengt O. Bengtsson at the Department of Biology at Lund University.

The research group on evolutionary genetics has discovered that a gene for the enzyme PGIC has been transferred into sheep’s fescue (Festuca ovina) from a meadow grass, probably Poa palustris, a reproductively distinct species. The DNA analyses also show that only a small part of a chromosome was transferred. This is the first proven case of the horizontal transfer of a gene with known function from the nucleus of one higher plant to another.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how the gene jump between the species occurred, which is not surprising as it took place perhaps 700 000 years ago. The most plausible explanation is that the gene was transmitted by a parasite or pathogen, such as a virus, perhaps with the help of a sap-sucking insect”, says Professor Bengtsson.

If gene jumps can occur naturally between plants belonging to different species, does this mean that there is no longer any reason to oppose genetically modified crops? According to Bengt O. Bengtsson, the answer is far from simple. He notes that the new results are interesting and important, but they do not say much about what is right or wrong in society.

“Many fear genetically modified crops because they believe that they may lead to unwanted gene spread in nature. This argument does not impress me. I sympathise, however, with the unease over the increased use of patents and monopolising practices in plant breeding. That is why it is so important that free and commercially independent research on plant genetics can be carried out in universities”, says Bengt O. Bengtsson.

The research has been published in the scientific journal PLoS One (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013529).

For more information, please contact: Bengt O. Bengtsson, Lund University
Tel: +46 (0)46 222 98 90; Email:
Pressofficer Megan Grindlay; +46-46 222 7308;

Megan Grindlay | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

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...

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

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>