Saturday, 3 March 2012

5.15 Genetically Modified Plants

Evaluate the potential for using genetically modified plants to improve food production. (illustrated by plants with improved resistance to pests)

In this example, we will use the crop maize:

  • Maize is damaged by the larvae of the european corkborer and can cause up to 20% loss of crop yield.
  • The bacterial Bt has a chromosome which contains a gene which produces Bt toxin and is known to kill the cork borer larvae.
  • The first step is to take the restriction enzyme to the gene of the Bt bacterium and chop the gene out so we have the Bt gene for the toxin, this is then transferred to the cells of the maize plants.
  • The technique involves the process which is known as 'gene gun' which involves taking tiny particles of gold and coated in the Bt gene, which is fired at high velocity at the plant cell and introduces the Bt gene to the interior of the plant cell.
  • So the plant cell gets the genes, so the maize cells have the Bt genes and means when it is switched on it produces the Bt toxin and kills the pests (larvae of cork borer) and increases crop yield

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