Canola plants float like a moth, sting like a scorpion


New transgenic canola (oilseed rape) plants have been created with genes extracted from scorpions and moths. Genes were taken from two insect species in an attempt to create a plant that would be poisonous to insect pests, but that insects would find it harder to become resistant to.

Insect resistance to pesticides, and reports of insect resistance to other genetically modified plants, is a problem often faced by commercial farmers trying to protect their crops.

The new canola plants created by Chinese scientists all showed some defence against the caterpillars of the diamondback moth, a major crop pest. The findings were published online in Plant Cell Report. The scorpion genes paralyse insect nervous systems while the moth genes break down some of the insect's structural cells.

Together, the two toxins will be difficult for the insect pests to evolve a resistance to, making the crop more commercially viable.SciDev.Net reports that the researchers are already trying out the gene combination on cotton plants.



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