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Unintended Effects of Genetic Manipulation
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Pineapple plants with transgenes for fungus and herbicide resistance had altered biochemical make-up.

Manipulated Organism: Pineapple (Ananas comosus).

Inserted Transgenes: chitinase gene (from the bean, Phaseolus vulgaris) and ap24 gene (from tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum), both of which have been described as antifungal genes; the bar gene from a bacterium (Streptomyces hygroscopicus) was used as a selectable marker, since it conveys resistance to the herbicide FINALE®. The genes were fused to the maize Ubi-1 promoter so that they would be expressed in all parts of the plant.

Goal: Produce genetically modified pineapple plants that are resistant to fungus, specifically to the species Phytophthora nicotianae var. parasitica. In this study the researchers investigated whether the genetically transformed pineapple plants showed any biochemical side effects.

Intended Effect: Transgenic pineapple plantlets were identified through their ability to grow in a medium with the herbicide FINALE®. The most resistant transgenic line was compared with unmanipulated controls grown under identical conditions for 30 days. Whether the transgenic plants are fungus resistant is still under investigation by this group and was not reported in this study.

Unintended Effects: Statistically significant changes were found in the amounts of aldehydes, chlorophyll pigments (a, b), phenolics, and protein. In all cases the transgenic plants showed decrease in the levels of these substances. The decreases were most marked in the amounts of aldehydes (for example, 42% less malondialdehyde) and in chlorophyll b (75% less).

Additional Comments: The authors note that such side effects may affect (1) plant stress tolerance, since aldehyde levels have been correlated with stress tolerance, and (2) the ability to perform photosynthesis due to lower levels of chlorophyll.

Source: Yabor, L., M. Arzola, C. Aragón, M. Hernández et al. (2006). "Biochemical Side Effects of Genetic Transformation of Pineapple," Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult vol. 86, pp. 63-7.

Author Affiliations: Laboratory for Plant Breeding, University of Ciego de Avila, Cuba.

Funding: International Foundation for Science, Stockholm, Sweden; Cuban Ministry for Science.

Product Status: Not on the market as of 2008.

Copyright 2008 The Nature Institute.

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