Argentina developing pest-resistant, GMO cotton using gene-silencing technology

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In Argentina, the presence of the cotton weevil represents a challenge for cotton production due to the productive losses it causes. For this reason, for nine years, [Argentina’s National Institute for Agricultural and Livestock] and the cotton provinces of Chaco, Formosa, Santa Fe and Santiago del Estero have been working on the development of different strategies to deal with this plague.

In a battle that the scientists fight on several fronts, they obtained varieties resistant to the boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) by means of the RNA interference strategy (RNAi). This technique consists of obtaining a very small sequence of RNA in the plant to specifically block the functionality of an essential gene in the boll weevil and, in this way, diminish its damage capacity.

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“The challenge we had ahead was to generate a transformation system and adjust it to begin to transform with the gene of interest, which took us years of research,” explained Dalia Lewi, head of the Genetic Algorithm Transformation Module of INTA, which managed to generate transgenic plants of this crop.

[This is a] real achievement given that the cotton processing system is very complex and …. there are very few research groups with this capacity.

[Editor’s note: Original article published in Spanish. This summary was prepared with Google Translate.]

Read full, original article: They obtain transgenic cotton plants resistant to the weevil

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