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2-Plants: GM crop that holds on to its seeds offers higher yields

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GM crop that holds on to its seeds offers higher yields
SOURCE: SciDev.Net , UK, by Wagdy Sawahel
DATE:   30 Aug 2005

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GM crop that holds on to its seeds offers higher yields

Researchers have found a way of boosting the yield of a major crop by
stopping its seedpods from bursting open.

Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) is the most important oilseed crop in
India after groundnut. It is grown largely to produce cooking oil from
the seeds. However, because the seedpods open naturally to disperse their
seeds at different times, part of each harvest is lost.

This 'pod shatter' also makes it difficult for farmers to rotate crops
because prematurely released seeds can germinate and become weeds.

Researchers, led by Lars Østergaard from the University of California at
San Diego, United States, created genetically modified (GM) Indian
mustard whose seedpods will not open naturally. They did this by
inserting a gene from a related plant called Arabidopsis.

Their research was published online by Plant Biotechnology Journal on 16

Østergaard says that controlling seedpod opening could have the added
benefit of reducing the chance of the inserted genes moving to non-GM
crops or wild species. He adds that the same approach could be used in
other crops that disperse their seeds in a similar way, such as soybean
and peas.

Indian mustard can tolerate heat and drought. Because of this, Australian
crop breeders are crossing it with its close relative Brassica napus
(canola or oilseed rape) -- which produces a better quality oil -- to
create new varieties.

Østergaard says that combining the new drought resistant varieties with
his teams' plants that do not shatter their seeds could yield crops that
are well suited for the warmer climates of most developing countries.

Link to abstract of paper in Plant Biotechnology Journal
Reference: Plant Biotechnology Journal doi: 10.1111/j.1467-
7652.2005.00156.x (2005)


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