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Fast growing, pest resistant GE poplar tree could revolutonize paper industry

| December 18, 2013

Scientists at Oregon State University have developed a pest-resistant, faster-growing poplar tree that could be “especially useful in the paper and pulp industries.” The trees are able to retain expression of the inserted genes for at least 14 years.

Steven Strauss, a forest geneticist at OSU, says that the trees could be “very significant” in terms of wood yield, plantation health and productivity. “Our field experiments and continued research showed results that exceeded our expectations,” he says.

A large-scale study of 402 trees from nine “insertion events” tracked the result of placing the cry3Aa gene, which gives rise to the Bt toxin, into hybrid poplar trees. The first phase was done between 1998 and 2001, and in the 14 years since then, the study has continued in a “clone bank” at OSU to ensure that the valued traits were retained with age.

Commercial use of such trees could be done with poplars that have been genetically engineered to be sterile so that they would be unlikely to spread their characteristics to other trees, researchers said, but it is unclear if regulatory agencies would allow the use of such technology.

Read the full, original story: Significant advance reported with genetically modified poplar trees

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