Thursday, January 6, 2011

Genes jumping from Bt to Non Bt Crops....

We have heard of Jumping Genes or what we call as Transposons, which were discovered by Barbara Mc Clintock and she was also awarded Nobel Prize in 1984 for this remarkable discovery. Jumping genes or transposons are sequences of DNA that can move or transpose themselves to new positions within the genome of a single cell. The mechanism of transposition can be either "copy and paste" or "cut and paste". But now, a recent study reveals transfer of genes from crop to crop i.e. an inserted bacterial gene gets transferred via pollen and seed dispersal in cotton plants more accurately than previously available methods.
Environmentalists are concerned about the possibility of genetic material from transgenic plants mixing with non transgenic plants in near by fields. Producers/ researchers on the other side, have a strong interest in knowing whether the varieties they are growing are free from unwanted genetic traits.
Despite being a matter of great concern for regulators still realistic models are not contemplated and accessed which could help growers and legislators scientifically study the mode of gene flow between genetically modified and non genetically modified crops with accuracy. This study conducted by a student at University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the first of its kind to analyze gene flow of a genetically modified trait with higher level of precision. The new approach is likely to cater to the scientific assessment of transfer of genes between plants in crops other than cotton as well.
This phenomenon of natural gene tranfer could be useful from the point of view of developing new methods of gene tranfers and subsequently crop improvement but at the same time it can prove to be hazardous from the Biosafety point of view. But, this study will definitely help the biosafety and regulatory bodies to design improved guidelines.

To read about the research in detail, click the link below:

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