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SCIENCE: University of Queensland (Australia) receives funds toovercome sugercane's resistance to GE

------------------------------- GENET-news  
------------------------------- TITLE:  Gene researchers to boost cane  
SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia
DATE:   24.05.2007

Gene researchers to boost cane production  The Australian Research  
Council has given almost $1 million to the University of Queensland  
(UQ) for further research into making sugarcane more productive by  
modifying its genes.  Researchers have already developed genes to  
boost the crop's sugar content and extend its uses to producing  
bio-fuels.  But UQ Professor Robert Birch says sugarcane has so many  
different genes it can mysteriously turn some off - meaning the  
introduced ones do not work.  "This project is about getting us over  
that special problem in sugarcane by understanding how come it's so  
special in turning off genes and letting us get those variety of  
different genes now exploited in a useful and practical way," he said.  
  Professor Birch believes sugarcane is probably the most complex crop  
grown genetically.  He says sugar cane has five times the number of  
genes humans have.  ,,It's probably got some tricks that turn off lots  
of extra copies it doesn't need, and by accident if you like, it's  
turning off introduced genes that we're putting in there," he said.   
If successful, some of those genes would help boost the crop's sugar  
content.  ,,That's very important for the profitability and economic  
sustainability of the industry," Professor Birch said.  They could  
also extend its uses to producing bio-fuels.  It is hoped small-scale  
field tests will be conducted in three to four years.

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