02 April, 2012
Scientists in Hertfordshire have created a GM wheat
crop that can repel aphids, telegraph.co.uk reports.
As part of a £1 million project to genetically manipulate wheat
to make a higher yield, scientists from Rothamstead Research have
created a crop that emits chemicals to ward off aphids.
The chemical in question, known as (E)-beta-farnesene, is
naturally produced in peppermint and is used by aphids to warn
others of imminent danger. Scientists removed the chemical from
peppermint, added it to the wheat and manipulated it so that the
wheat released it in quantities that would scare off aphids and
send them elsewhere.
Whilst the current research was something of a success, the
research was undertaken for proof of principle, with scientists
looking to make it commercially viable to sell to farmers in due
If successful, the new wheat could offer higher yields on
Britain's 15 million tonnes of wheat harvested every year, at a
value to the economy of around £1.2 billion.
Explaining their results, director of Rothamstead Research
professor Maurice Moloney explained: "Generally GM has been used in
a mode whereby you have got to kill something.
"In this case what we are really doing is putting a no-parking
zone on the leaf of the plant saying 'don't come here'."
Source: Vertical Leap