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Adhesion of transgenic cry proteins to mineral and organic soil surfaces: implications for the fate and bioactivity of transgenic products in the environment

Applicant Schwarzenbach René P.
Number 115662
Funding scheme NRP 59 Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants
Research institution Institut für Biogeochemie und Schadstoffdynamik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Pedology
Start/End 01.06.2007 - 31.07.2011
Approved amount 248'429.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (5)

Bt maize; Bt toxin; Cry Protein; Soil adhesion; Environmental Fate and Risk

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
How do insecticidal proteins from transgenic plants behave in soil?Many transgenic plants produce proteins that kill certain insect pests that feed on the plants. When these plants are cultivated, proteins of this type also pass into the soil and may harm other organisms there.BackgroundAn increasing number of transgenic plants are being cultivated worldwide that produce insecticidal proteins, known as Cry proteins, to defend themselves against insect pests. When these plants are grown, some of the Cry proteins pass into the soil either with dead plant material or directly via the plants’ roots. It cannot be ruled out that these proteins may have negative effects on the soil. There are concerns, for example, that the Cry proteins damage beneficial soil organisms and bacteria, and that insect pests could become resistant to these proteins. The possible extent of these effects depends on how strongly Cry proteins adhere to solid components of the soil.ObjectivesThe project aims to achieve a precise understanding of the way Cry proteins adhere to various components of soil. This knowledge will allow assessing the stability of these proteins in soils, the distances over which the proteins are transported in soil and the extent to which beneficial soil organisms come into contact with them.MethodsCry proteins adhesion will be studied to different soil components - including quartz sand, clay minerals and humus - and three selected soils encountered in Swiss agriculture. The adhesion of Cry proteins will be examined directly on the surfaces of the soil components, i.e. on a microscopic scale, using specific instruments. The results will form the basis for the development of a computer model to predict the adhesion and transportation Cry proteins in various soils.SignificanceThe risk of possible damage being caused by Cry proteins in soils can only be assessed if the strength of the adhesion of these proteins to soil components is known. The experimental studies needed to provide this information will be carried out in this project. In addition, the results will be incorporated into a model that will allow estimating possible negative effects of Cry proteins in various agricultural soils.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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