GM Crop Database

Database Product Description

GHB119 (BCS-GHØØ5-8)
Host Organism
Gossypium hirsutum (Cotton)

Herbicide Tolerance, Insect Resistance

Trait Introduction
Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated plant transformation.
Proposed Use

Production for fibre, livestock feed, and human consumption.

Product Developer
Bayer CropScience USA LP

Summary of Regulatory Approvals

Country Food Feed Environment Notes
Australia 2011
Brazil 2011 2011 2011
Canada 2012 2012
China 2014 2014
Japan 2012 2012 2013
Korea 2013 2012
Mexico 2012
New Zealand 2011
Taiwan 2015
United States 2011 2012 2012

Introduction Expand

GHB119 cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) plants express the insecticidal protein Cry2Ae (encoded by the cry2Ae gene) from the common soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. dakota (B.t. dakota) and the herbicide tolerance protein phosphinothicin acetyltransferase (PAT; encoded by the bar gene) from Streptomyces hygroscopicus.  The Cry2Ae protein is effective in controlling lepidopteran larvae such as bollworm (CBW, Helicoverpa zea) and tobacco budworm (TBW, Heliothis virescens) larvae, which are common pests of cotton.  The expression of the PAT (phosphinothricin acetyltransferase) protein provides tolerance to glufosinate ammonium herbicides by acetylating glufosinate ammonium, thus detoxifying it.  The cry2Ae and bar genes have been stably integrated into the GHB119 cotton genome.

Summary of Introduced Genetic Elements Expand

Code Name Type Promoter, other Terminator Copies Form
cry2Ae Cry2Ae delta-endotoxin IR

Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S

3’35S-RB, from the Cauliflower mosaic virus


cry2Ae coding sequence

bar Phosphinothricin acetyl-transferase HT

Cassava vein virus promoter sequence

3’ untranslated region of nopaline synthase gene from Agrobacterium tumefaciens


Coding sequence of bar gene 

Characteristics of Gossypium hirsutum (Cotton) Expand

Center of Origin Reproduction Toxins Allergenicity

Believed to originate in Meso-America (Peruvian-Ecuadorian-Bolivian region).

Generally self-pollinating, but can be cross-pollinating in the presence of suitable insect pollinators (bees). In the U.S., compatible species include G. hirsutum, G. barbadense, and G. tomentosum.

Gossypol in cottonseed meal.

Cotton is not considered to be allergenic, although there are rare, anecdotal reports of allergic reactions in the literature.

Donor Organism Characteristics Expand

Latin Name Gene Pathogenicity
Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. Dakota cry2Ae

Although target insects are susceptible to oral doses of Bt proteins, there is no evidence of toxic effects in laboratory mammals or bird given up to 10 µg protein / g body wt. There are no significant mammalian toxins or allergens associated with the host organism.

Streptomyces hygroscopicus bar S. hygroscopicus is ubiquitous in the soil and there have been no reports of adverse affects on humans, animals, or plants.

Modification Method Expand

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of Coker 312 cotton with the T-DNA vector pTEM12 was carried out using cotyledon explants.  Following co-culture with Agrobacterium, callus formation was initiated on a specific medium containing glufosinate ammonium as the selective agent and cefotaxime to eliminate residual Agrobacterium.  Selected tissues were transferred to the appropriate regeneration medium.  The developed plantlets were transferred to the greenhouse to allow flowering and seed set.

Characteristics of the Modification Expand

Southern blot analyses determined that the inserted transgenic sequence in cotton event GHB119 consists of one complete copy of the T-DNA.

The inserted genes are inherited as a single dominant trait.  The stability of the gene insertion was demonstrated by Southern blot analyses and Mendelian inheritance analyses.  Southern analyses were conducted across three generations and two genetic backgrounds.  No differences were seen in any of the analyses. 

Phenotypic stability was demonstrated by Mendelian segregation of the T304-40 insert. A T0 plant was crossed with conventional cotton, and the resulting F1 plants were evaluated in the greenhouse.  The F1 plants were crossed, resulting in the F2 generation which was evaluated in the greenhouse for herbicide tolerance. The results in 3 different genetic backgrounds demonstrate Mendelian inheritance for a single gene locus and confirm stability of the GHB119 cotton insert.

Expression analyses for Cry1Ab and PAT proteins were conducted on seed (grain), leaf, squares, pollen, stems, bolls, nectar, flowers, and whole plants.  Both proteins were detected in all tissues tested.  For Cry2Ae, the expression values were highest in young leaves (37.5 µg/g tissue) and lowest in grain (0.99 µg/g tissue) For PAT, the values were highest in pre-flower leaves (114 µg/g tissue) and lowest in grain (2.59 µg/g tissue).  

Environmental Safety Considerations Expand

Field Testing

GHB119 cotton has been field tested by BCS beginning in 2005. Data collected from these field trials demonstrated that GHB119 cotton did not exhibit weedy characteristics and had no effects on non-target organisms or the general environment.


Only pollen flow poses any potential risk for gene flow in cotton.  Vegetative propagation is uncommon for cotton and seed dispersal (wind, birds, and animals) is rarely successful due to the properties of the boll structure.  Cotton pollen is not transferred by wind due to its large, heavy and sticky nature.  Natural cross-pollination results from pollen being carried by insects, bees being the most important cotton pollinators.

In the US, there are four cotton species, with two that are cultivated commercially – G. hirsutum L. and G. barbadense L. and two wild relatives – G. thurberi Todaro and G. tomentosum Nuttall ex Seemann.  Of these four species, only three Gossypium species could be recipients for G. hirsutum - G. hirsutum itself, G. barbadense and G. tomentosum.  Feral populations of G. hirsutum are found only in the southern tip of Florida and in Hawaii, which is hundreds of miles from any commercial cotton fields.  G. barbadense is only found in very small commercial plots and is not found in wild environments in the US.  Thus outcrossing to wild G. hirsutum or commercial plots of G. barbadense is unlikely.

Outcrossing of the tetraploid G. hirsutum to the wild diploid G. thurberi, which occurs in Arizona, is extremely unlikely.  Crosses between these species in breeding programs have been done, but the vigor of the hybrid seed is much reduced and the plants are usually infertile.  In addition, native populations of G. thurberi reside in the higher altitudes and are thus isolated from commercial cotton production (Fryxell, 1979).  Therefore, outcrossing of commercial TwinLink cotton to G. thurberi is not a concern.

Gossypium tomentosum is only found in the Hawaiian archipelago, occurring in dry coastal areas far removed from agricultural areas.  The flowers of G. tomentosum are only receptive at night, rather than in the day as for G. hirsutum and moths, rather than bees generally pollinate them.  

Thus, it was concluded that the potential for transfer of the insect resistance, herbicide tolerance traits from the GHB119 cotton varieties to other cotton species via pollen or gene flow was negligible in managed ecosystems such as farms.

Weediness Potential

Cotton is generally considered not to be a serious, principal or common weed pest.  The largest concern is that of volunteer plants that could become weedy in subsequent years.  Volunteers are also limited by the geography in which they may exist as cotton does not survive as a perennial where freezing temperatures are reached during the winter.  Volunteers can easily be controlled by crop rotation, tillage and/or pre- or post-emergence herbicides.  For example, GHB119 cotton volunteers could easily be controlled by using the herbicide glyphosate.

Secondary and Non-Target Adverse Effects

Field observations of GHB119 cotton concluded there was no significant impact on organisms beneficial to plants and/or agriculture or on other non-target organisms. 

The mode of action of Cry proteins in target organisms is well understood and is mediated by binding proteins in the gut, which have considerable inter-species variability.  Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Cry proteins (including several Cry2 proteins) have been extensively studied in laboratory assays and field tests, and cotton and corn expressing these proteins have been grown on significant acreage in globally with no reports of significant effects.  These studies indicate that Cry proteins pose no unacceptable risk for any organisms except the narrowly-targeted pest species and very close relatives. For GHB119 cotton, additional data was generated on non-target organisms such as honey bees, earthworms, springtails, etc. and no effects were identified.  

Food and/or Feed Safety Considerations Expand

Nutritional Data

Proximate analyses were carried out on seed, meal, toasted meal, hulls and linters, amino acid profiles of seed, meal and toasted meal, fatty acid profiles of seed, crude oil and deodorized oil, and levels of Cry2Ae and PAT proteins expression in whole and processed fractions. Analyses were also conducted for naturally occurring toxicants and antinutrients (gossypol, cyclopropenoid fatty acids and phytic acid), as well as Vitamin E (tocopherol) for seed (whole and delinted) and oil (crude and deodorized). GHB119 cotton was found to be substantially equivalent to other varieties of cotton.


The low potential for allergenicity of the Cry2Ae and PAT proteins has been established through amino acid sequence comparisons to known allergens, digestibility in simulated gastric and intestinal fluids, presence of glycosylation and assessment of heat stability.  The Cry2Ae and PAT proteins share no epitopes with known allergens, are not glycosylated or heat stable and degrade rapidly in  simulated gastric and intestinal fluids.  

Links to Further Information Expand

This record was last modified on Monday, August 10, 2015