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Nov 2, 2010

Superweed Research - What If GM Sorghum Escaped into the Wild?

In October 2010 the American Journal of Botany published a report by researchers at the University of Nebraska and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service studying what would happen if gene-modified (GM) sorghum escaped into the wild and cross-breed with its weedy relatives.

The study was spearheaded by John Lindquist, an expert in plant ecology, crop production and weed management. Sorghum was chosen as the research subject for several reasons: 1) it is an important food and feed crop throughout the world; 2) it is highly adaptable in semiarid environments common to Africa, India, and the Southern and Western Great Plains of the United States; 3) there are only a limited number of weed-killers that can control the crop; and 4) it is capable of cross-breeding with several related weeds such as johnsongrass and shattercane.

This study focused on how varying climates impacted gene transfer between sorghum and shattercane.  Resulting hybrids were taller and more likely survive than their parents.  Researchers concluded that more research is needed to understand correlations and changes.

For related blog see: Sorghum Genome Completed, 01/28/09

For the original source article see:

Lilyrani Sahoo, Jared J. Schmidt, Jeffrey F. Pedersen, Donald J. Lee, and John L. Lindquist (2010). Growth and fitness components of wild x cultivated Sorghum bicolor (Poaceae) hybrids in Nebraska. American Journal of Botany 97(10): 1610-1617.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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