- News Home
17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
Resistant Weed Could Outdo Crop
6 August 1998 8:00 pm
BALTIMORE--Weeds that acquire genes for herbicide resistance from a genetically engineered crop can reproduce just as well as nonhybrid weeds. The finding, reported here today at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting, suggests that scientists will have to find more sophisticated ways to engineer plants to prevent valuable traits from escaping into nearby weeds.
Spraying entire fields with herbicides is much more efficient than targeting just the weeds. To take this broad-brush approach, scientists insert herbicide-resistance genes into the DNA of crops. But when the crop plants release pollen, weedy relatives growing near the crops can take up the resistance genes through the pollen. Because cultivated crop plants are generally less robust than weeds, however, researchers have thought that any genetic mixing should result in less hardy weeds.
To test this idea, plant biologist Allison Snow of Ohio State University in Columbia and colleagues at the Risoe National Laboratory in Roskilde, Denmark, crossed a herbicide-resistant version of Brassica napus, the rapeseed plant used to make canola cooking oil, with its weedy cousin, Brassica rapa. They grew the hybrid weeds and compared them to regular weeds. Both produced similar amounts of seeds and thus could reproduce equally well. This means that crops won't have any edge in competing with weeds, says Snow.
But some experts are not convinced that resistant weeds will be a widespread problem. "There's not many crops that have weedy relatives in the U.S." that could accept the resistance genes, says Juliette Winterer, a population biologist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, although resistance may spread from carrots, squash, and sunflowers as well as rapeseed. Scientists may try to circumvent this gene transfer by inserting genes into a crop plant cell's cytoplasm, where they can only be inherited through the seeds.