Gene Clonning and DNA Analysis in Agriculture

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 5156 | Date: 01-May-2011

Current uses of biotechnology in agriculture Engineered Crops:Herbicide Tolerance: Insect Tolerance:Virus Tolerance:Resistance to environmental stress :Increasing yields:Transgenic plants:

1.  Current uses of biotechnology in agriculture
Some of the most important commercial applications of biotechnology are discussed below.

Engineered Crops:
The most widespread application of genetic engineering in agriculture by far is in engineered crops. Thousands of such products have been field tested and over a dozen have been approved for commercial use. The traits most commonly introduced into crops are herbicide tolerance, insect tolerance, and virus tolerance.

Herbicide Tolerance:
Herbicide tolerance allows crops to withstand otherwise lethal doses of herbicides, which are chemicals that kill plants. Some herbicides kill virtually all plants and cannot be used on crops. By offering crops tolerant to herbicides, chemical companies can expand the market for their products. Indeed, the major developers of herbicide tolerant plants are companies that sell herbicides. The current set of commercially available herbicide-tolerant crops is tolerant to three herbicides based on three active ingredients: bromoxynil, glyphosate, and glufosinate.

Insect Tolerance:
All of the commercially available insect-tolerant plants contain a version of the toxin Bacillus thuringiensis, which is found in nature in soil bacteria. Bacillus thuringiensis toxins are highly effective for many pest organisms, like beetles and moth larva, but not toxic to mammals and most other nontarget organisms. A major concern among farmers and environmentalists is that wide use of Bacillus thuringiensis crops will lead to the rapid development (over the course of perhaps as few as three to five years) of resistance to the toxin. If resistance develops, the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin will be useless as a pesticide. In this case, the environmental benefits of the product will be short lived.

Loss of Bacillus thuringiensis efficacy will affect those who currently use the engineered Bacillus thuringiensis crops, but also many other farmers who use Bacillus thuringiensis in its natural bacterial form, usually as a spray. These other farmers include those who grow food organically and those who use Bacillus thuringiensis  as part of integrated pest management (IPM) plans. Natural  Bacillus thuringiensis sprays are a valuable mode of pest control for these farmers. Organic farmers and others who rely on Bacillus thuringiensis question whether the companies who sell the Bt crops have the right to use up this resource guided only by commercial calculations. UCS considers  to be a public good that should be reserved for everyone.

Virus Tolerance:
The third major application of biotechnology to crops is virus tolerance. These crops contain a gene taken from a virus. By a process that is not well understood, plants that produce certain viral proteins are able to fend off infections by the viruses from which the proteins were taken. Two virus-tolerant crops are currently approved for commercial use, papaya and squash. The squash, which is resistant to two viruses, is currently off the market. Although it is difficult to get information on why products are not on the market, it is possible that the squash did not perform well enough in the field to capture market share.

Resistance to environmental stress :
In addition to the biological challenges to plant growth and development just described, crops plant must contained with a biotic stresses nature dispenses regularly drought , cold, heat and soils that are too acidic or salty to support plant growth .while plant readers successfully incorporated genetic resistance to biotic stresses into many crop plants through crossbreeding, their success at creating crops resistance to a biotic stresses has been more limited, largely because few crops have close relatives with genes for resistance to these stresses. The crossbreeding limitation posed by reproductive compatibility does not impede crop biotechnology; genes found in any organism can be used to improve crop production. As a result, scientists are making great strides in developing crops that can tolerate difficult growing conditions for example; researchers have genetically modified tomato and canola plants that tolerate salt levels 300% greater than none genetically modified varieties. Other researchers have identified many genes involved in cold, heat and drought tolerance found naturally in some plants and bacteria .scientist in Mexico have produced maize and papaya that are tolerant to the high levels of aluminum that significantly impede crop plant productivity in many developing countries.

Increasing yields:
In addition to increasing crop productivity by using built in protection against diseases, pests , environmental stresses and weeds to minimize losses, scientists use biotechnology to improve crop yields directly. Researchers at Japan’s national institute of agro biological resources added maize photosynthesis genes to rise to increase its efficiency at a converting sunlight to plant starch and increased yields by 30 %. Other scientist are altering plant metabolism by blocking gene action in order to shunt nutrients to certain plant parts. Yields increase as starch accumulates in potato tubers and not leaves, or as oil-seed crops, such as canola, allocate most fatty acid to the seeds.
2. Transgenic plants:

A procedure used to make a transgenic plant.(9) (A) Outline of the process. A disc is cut out of a leaf and incubated in culture with Agro bacteria that carry a recombinant plasmid with both a selectable marker and a desired transgene. The wounded cells at the edge of the disc release substances that attract the Agro bacteria and cause them to inject DNA into these cells. Only those plant cells that take up the appropriate DNA and express the selectable marker gene survive to proliferate and form a callus. The manipulation of growth factors supplied to the callus induces it to form shoots that subsequently root and grow into adult plants carrying the transgene.
(B) The preparation of the recombinant plasmid and its transfer to plant cells. An Agrobacterium plasmid that normally carries the T-DNA sequence is modified by substituting a selectable marker (such as the kanamycin-resistance gene) and a desired transgene between the 25-nucleotide-pair T-DNA repeats. When the Agrobacterium recognizes a plant cell, it efficiently passes a DNA strand that carries these sequences into the plant cell, using the special machinery that normally transfers the plasmid's T-DNA sequence(9).

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