Herbicide resistance

 
Published: Tuesday 30 November 1999

Researchers associated with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a large seed company based in the US that is looking for ways to modify genes in its products, have announced details of a genetic method to make corn plants resistant to two common herbicides. The technique also prompts plants to repair an inactive gene, a trait that is passed on to the progeny. Plant scientists are increasingly reporting remarkable success adapting a genetic technique previously used to modify genes in animal cells. The technique is called chimeraplasty because it is based on molecules that are hybrids, or chimeras, of DNA and its chemical relative RNA. Chimeraplasty was invented by Eric B Kmiec of the Thomas Jefferson University, USA, and it can efficiently modify genes in mammalian cells. Experiments with plants started after Charles J Artnzen of the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University adopted the technique and was successful in his first experiment ( Scientific American , Vol 281, No 4).

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