Menu

GM Wheat Fails in the Field

A field trial of wheat genetically engineered to resist aphids fails to measure up to lab tests.

Jun 26, 2015
Amanda B. Keener

WIKIMEDIA

In an effort to cut back on the need for pesticides, many research groups have developed genetically modified (GM) wheat that can fight pathogens and resist pests. Besides incidental appearances of Monsanto’s Round-up Ready wheat, just one variety of GM wheat has made it out of the lab and into the field for testing. But according to a study published in Scientific Reports yesterday (June 25), those field trials have failed.

Researchers at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, U.K., designed the study, which took place over the course of several months in 2012 and 2013, to test the resistance of wheat programmed to make a pheromone that repels aphids, insects that feed on and transmit viruses to plants. The pheromone, called (E)-β-farnesene (Eβf) also attracts some aphid predators. Despite its ability to deter aphids in lab tests, the Eβf-producing wheat harbored similar numbers of aphids as wild-type wheat when grown in a field.

“We had hoped that this technique would offer a way to reduce the use of insecticides in pest control in arable farming,” study coauthor Huw Jones, a molecular biologist at Rothamsted said in a statement. “As so often happens, this experiment shows that the real world environment is much more complicated than the laboratory.”

Jonathan Gershenzon, who studies plant chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany and was not involved in the study, told The Guardian that the pheromone-releasing strategy likely “doesn’t work in nature because the aphids get used to the continuous release of their alarm pheromone and thus learn to ignore it.”

According to Nature News, the Rothamsted team plans to address this issue by programming their wheat to release Eβf in bursts rather than continuously.

“I give them lots of points for trying and even more points for being willing to publish negative data,” Gershenzon told Nature News. “It shows how science can work.”

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced that its QXDx AutoDG ddPCR System, which uses Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR technology, and the QXDx BCR-ABL %IS Kit are the industry’s first digital PCR products to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance. Used together, Bio-Rad’s system and kit can precisely and reproducibly monitor molecular response to treatment in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.