"From a scientific perspective, the public argument about genetically-modified organisms, I think, will soon be a thing of the past. The science has moved on and we're now in the genomics era." - Dr Robert Goodman from the University of Wisconsin (and formerly with Calgene)
Old Fashioned Plant Breeding KO's Insects
20 Feb 2001
DONALD - Feb 20/01 - STAT -- Combining traditional plant breeding methods with DNA analysis, plant breeders in Australia are on the verge of creating sorghum varieties which not only naturally resist insects, they kill them.
Plant breeders are using traditional methods to combine genetic material, but relying on DNA analysis to quickly identify lines of plants which contain the genes they are looking for in an effort to breed in insect resistance.
Entomologist with the Queensland's Department of Primary Industries Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences, Adam Hardy, said that the research, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, had identified the genetic markers in one type of Indian grain sorghum that gave the plant the capacity to kill midge larvae.
The world-first discovery meant that new and improved sorghum varieties could be developed.
"Over the last four years, we have been screening international sorghum lines that contain some extra resistance to sorghum midge, a tiny insect pest that in the past has caused significant economic loss in the form of damaged seed heads," Hardy said.
"After growing selected sorghum varieties in the glasshouse, we conducted molecular marker work in collaboration with the CSIRO and, as a result, have identified the location of genes causing this unique resistance.
"While we have sorghum varieties with good levels of resistance to midge, they have only one resistance mechanism, meaning midge could overcome the resistance in the same way as the flu can overcome antibiotics.
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