Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mutant Corn's Natural Defenses Enhanced

Genetically Enhanced Corn Natural Defenses

Using a plant gene from oregano which sends out a chemical call for help from the western corn rootworm (in reality a beetle), which studies show have proven to be effective deterrent when parasitic roundworms respond and start to kill the pests almost immediately.

Researchers say this could lead to solid corn harvests with less need for expensive pesticides.

How the research was conducted was regular corn was planted alongside the mutant corn and beetle larvae released among them. After that nematodes, or otherwise called roundworms were released as well, and results were the beetle larvae had been killed in three days.

As far as damage during that time, the genetically modified corn incurred far less damage than regular corn, and the numbers of beetle were 60 percent less on the mutant corn.

"As soon as the nematodes hit [the genetically modified plants]—within three days the larvae were killed," said study co-author Ted Turlings, a zoologist at the University of Neuch√Ętel in Switzerland.

It's postulated that the selective breeding used in the U.S. to produce faster-growing plants, along with pesticide use, may have slowly gnawed away at the natural defense mechanism in U.S. plants, in contrast to corn varieties used in Europe; although that's far from proven in any way.

Genetically Enhanced Corn Natural Defenses