Potato genes protect rice
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CTA. 1996. Potato genes protect rice. Spore 66. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47491
A gene taken from the potato and put into rice plants will help rice to defend itself against chewing insects. Insects, such as stem-borers, eat their way down the stem of the rice plant using enzymes called proteinases to digest what they have...
A gene taken from the potato and put into rice plants will help rice to defend itself against chewing insects. Insects, such as stem-borers, eat their way down the stem of the rice plant using enzymes called proteinases to digest what they have consumed. Scientists at Cornell University argued that if they could stop the proteinases working, the insects would not be able to digest the rice plant and that would force them to move elsewhere to feed; otherwise they would starve. Fortunately, there are natural compounds which will deactivate these enzymes, they are called proteinase inhibitors. The rice plant itself might have a proteinase inhibitor gene but it has not been discovered yet. But researchers have found that the potato has a very effective gene which is responsible for making the inhibitor which they have transferred into rice. When the treated rice plant is attacked by a chewing insect, the gene is switched on and the insect ingests the inhibitor as it begins to eat its way down the plant. When genetically altered plants were challenged by the pink stem-borer; the plants proved to be five times as resistant as normal plants. When researchers manipulated other pests such as planthoppers, which feed by sucking, the inhibitor gene was not switched on because the tiny hole made by the planthopper is so small that the damage is not detected. However, researchers believe they have other genes which may help to control sucking pests. Section of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology Cornell University Ithaca, New York 14853, USA