Bt rice showed signs of dwarfism and other abnormalities.
Rice (Oryza sativa).
Either the Cry1Ab or Cry1Ac gene from Bacillus
thuringiensis (Bt), both of which produce proteins toxic to the larvae
of Lepidopteran insects (moths). The Bt gene was controlled with the
maize ubiquitin promoter. The genetic constructs also contained the
antibiotic resistance genes nptII and hph, as well as the
gus reporter gene.
Goal of This Study:
Investigate the agronomic and morphological characteristics of transgenic
rice plants containing a Bt gene.
Results of This Study:
Eighty rice plants were regenerated from tissue culture and used to
establish transgenic lines. "The overall performance of most transgenic
lines was inferior to non-transformed controls in terms of plant height,
number of productive tillers per plant, number of grains per panicle and
seed setting rate.... Some transgenic plants produced small-sized or
malformed grains; others had the plant stature of 30% the height of the
control" (p. 347-8). Based on several lines of evidence, the authors
believe that most of these abnormalities were the result of tissue
culturing and/or transformation with Agrobacterium, not the
presence of the Bt gene.
However, progeny testing of lines descended from the rice variety
Xiushui 11 showed that a dwarf phenotype characterized by "short
stature and [a] weak root system" (p. 350) was recessively inherited
with the resistance trait. The authors suggest the dwarfism could be
(1) caused by a disruptive effect associated with transgene insertion,
(2) the result of a mutation located near the transgene on the chromosome
(linked traits), or (3) the result of high expression of the Bt toxin.
The third possibility seems less likely because, if true, one would
expect some stunting even with only one copy of the Bt gene, which was
Because the process of genetic engineering tends to create numerous
undesirable mutations, plant breeders repeatedly cross GE plants to
commercially viable varieties in an effort to separate the desired trait
from this genetic "baggage."
Shu, Q., H. Cui, G. Ye, D. Wu et al. (2002). "Agronomic and Morphological
Characterization of Agrobacterium-Transformed Bt Rice Plants,"
Euphytica vol. 126, pp. 345-52.
Zhejiang University, China; University of Ottawa, Canada.
Rockefeller Foundation; China's Ministry of Science and Technology;
Yok Ying Tung Education Foundation; Science and Technology Department of
China's Zhejiang Province.
Not on the market as of 2009.
Copyright 2009 The Nature Institute.