November 28, 2011
Table of Contents
VIGS: Rapid Progression from Candidate Genes to Validated Functions
Leandro Quadrana and Fernando Carrari
Functional testing of plant genes can be performed by several methods. However each approach has drawbacks, and in most agronomically relevant crops, the production of GE plants is laborious and slow. To address the problem of the time-consuming strategies, a faster protocol for gene silencing was developed based on the transient expression of a recombinant virus. This Virus Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) technique is useful for gene functional characterization in several plant species and plant organs.
Crop Fungal Resistance Developed Using Genetic Engineering and Antifungal Proteins from Viruses
Thomas James Smith
Smut fungi are important agricultural pathogens responsible for significant losses in crop yield. To control corn smut disease, several methods have been recommended, including crop rotation, sanitation, seed treatments, application of foliar fungicides, modification of fertility, and biological controls. In spite of these frequently mentioned control tactics, host resistance is the only practical method of managing common smut in areas where U. maydis is prevalent. Currently, there is no maize line available that is immune to infection by U. maydis and no single gene that confers resistance. We explored an alternative approach by introducing a component of a naturally occurring antifungal system into transgenic maize.
RISK ASSESSMENT RESEARCH
Biotic and Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Transgenic Plants: Greater Gene Flow and Fitness?
C. Neal Stewart, Jr.
Even before the first transgenic crops were commercialized over 15 years ago, regulators and scientists raised questions about the effects of transgenes that move from agricultural fields into wild and weedy populations of crop relatives. Although the worst case transgene flow scenarios have not come to pass, the reasons why are still unknown. Yet, gene flow to wild relatives is still a regulatory and scientific concern. Despite the unfounded dire potential ecological effects of transgenes running wild, there are legitimate regulatory and biosafety concerns about biocontainment of certain types of transgenes and in certain plant species.
MON810: Long-term Cultivation Does Not Result in an Accumulation of Bt Protein in the Soil
Scientists from the Bavarian Sate Research Centre for Agriculture and the University of Technology in Munich have for the first time investigated what happens to Bt protein from genetically modified MON810 maize throughout the agricultural cycle-from cultivation to use of the plants as cattle fodder, to the spreading of liquid manure from these animals on the fields. "Our most important result was demonstrating, firstly, that Bt protein does not accumulate in the soil as a result of long term cultivation, and secondly, that only minimal residual amounts of Bt protein are contained in the liquid manure spread on the fields. The remaining Bt protein breaks down so fast there that it does not enter the feed again via the harvested crop," says Helga Gruber summarising the results.
Congress Invents Patent Law Overhaul
In the midst of economic crises, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate pushed for a reform of patent laws. On September 8, the Senate approved the House version of the bill without amendment by an 89 to 9 vote. President Obama signed the Patent Reform Act of 2011 (the Leahy- Smith America Invents Act) into law. PTO director David Kappos declared that the Act marks the most comprehensive renovation to U.S. patent law since 1836. The Patent Reform Act offers opportunities for inventors, as well as pitfalls for the unwary. The PTO will have to devise rules to implement-and in some cases, interpret-the Act's provisions. Supporters of the legislation boasted that the Patent Reform Act will increase employment. Patent attorneys may well be the first beneficiaries of the new patent law.
NIFA Releases First Three FY 2012 Requests for Applications to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
WASHINGTON D.C., Sept. 28, 2011
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has released the first three requests for applications (RFA) to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funding opportunity to support research, education and extension in fundamental and applied food and agricultural sciences.The newly released RFAs are for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change and Sustainable Bioenergy challenge areas and the NIFA Fellowships Grant program. NIFA anticipates releasing the Food Security RFA within the next ten days. Additionally, NIFA will release three more AFRI RFAs during the next several months, including the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Food Safety challenge areas and the AFRI Foundational Program.