Can we keep the cap on transgene escape?

02/24/04

Molecular strategies are being developed to impede the escape of transgenes from transgenic crops into wild relatives, which might become invasive upon acquiring transgenic traits such as resistance to pests or herbicides.

For example, to impede escape through pollen, a transgene could be inserted into chloroplast DNA, which in many crops is transmitted mostly through ovules, not pollen. Any of these strategies would be leaky to some extent.

In a paper appearing soon in Ecology Letters, Haygood, Ives, and Andow mathematically analyze how the probability of escape within any given period of time depends on several factors, including a leakage parameter characteristic of the strategy. They find that even when the average escape time is fairly long, there is substantial probability of escape much sooner.

Even with a leakage parameter as small as one in a thousand, the probability of escape within as few as ten generations could be appreciable.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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