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GM nematode-resistant potatoes are soil safe

Results from a study by researchers at the UK’s Leeds University show that growing potatoes genetically modified for resistance to potato cyst nematodes ( Globodera pallida) has no deleterious effects on non-target soil microfauna. Two potato lines were tested in contained and small-scale field trials. One line expressed a transgene encoding a plant cysteine protease inhibitor (cystatin) that acts as an anti-feedant, slowing growth rates in nematode colonies established in root cells. The second line expressed a transgene encoding a non-lethal exudate peptide under the control of a root-tip specific promoter, MDK4-20, that disrupts the chemosensory system that nematodes use to locate host plants. The peptide, nAChRbp, is a disulphide-constrained 7-mer, with the amino acid sequence, CTTMHPRLC, which inhibits chemoreception of G pallida at 1 µM and reduces parasitism of hairy roots of potato.

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