Database Product Description
- Host Organism
- Zea mays (Maize)
- Trade Name
- Herculex® I
- Resistance to European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis); phosphinothricin (PPT) herbicide tolerance, specifically glufosinate ammonium.
- Trait Introduction
- Microparticle bombardment of plant cells or tissue
- Proposed Use
Production for human consumption and livestock feed.
- Product Developer
- Mycogen (c/o Dow AgroSciences); Pioneer (c/o Dupont)
Summary of Regulatory Approvals
Summary of Introduced Genetic Elements Expand
Characteristics of Zea mays (Maize) Expand
Donor Organism Characteristics Expand
Modification Method Expand
Characteristics of the Modification Expand
Environmental Safety Considerations Expand
Food and/or Feed Safety Considerations Expand
Maize is grown primarily for its kernel, which is largely refined into products used in a wide range of food, medical, and industrial goods. Only a small amount of whole maize kernel is consumed by humans. Maize oil is extracted from the germ of the maize kernel and maize is also a raw material in the manufacture of starch. A complex refining process converts the majority of this starch into sweeteners, syrups and fermentation products, including ethanol. Refined maize products, sweeteners, starch, and oil are abundant in processed foods such as breakfast cereals, dairy goods, and chewing gum.
In the United States and Canada maize is typically used as animal feed, with roughly 70% of the crop fed to livestock, although an increasing amount is being used for the production of ethanol. The entire maize plant, the kernels, and several refined products such as glutens and steep liquor, are used in animal feeds. Silage made from the whole maize plant makes up 10-12% of the annual corn acreage, and is a major ruminant feedstuff. Livestock that feed on maize include cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, goats, fish and companion animals.
Industrial uses for maize products include recycled paper, paints, cosmetics, car parts and pharmaceuticals.
The European corn borer (ECB), Ostrinia nubilalis, is the most damaging insect pest of maize in the United States and Canada; losses resulting from ECB damage and control costs exceed $1 billion each year. An average of one ECB cavity per maize stalk across an entire field can reduce yield by as much as 5% when caused by first generation larvae, and 2.5% when caused by second generation larvae, with annual yield losses estimated at 5 to 10 %.
Despite consistent losses to ECB, chemical insecticides are utilized on a relatively small acreage (less than 20%). Historically, this reluctance stems from the difficulties in identifying and managing ECB in maize crops: ECB larval damage is hidden, heavy infestations are unpredictable, insecticides are costly, timing of insecticide application is difficult and multiple applications may be required to guarantee ECB control.
Weeds are also a major production problem in maize cultivation. Even a light infestation of weeds can reduce yields by 10 to 15%; severe infestations can reduce yields by 50% or more. Typically, weeds are managed using a combination of cultural (e.g., seed bed preparation, clean seed, variety selection) and chemical controls. Depending on the production area and the prevalent weed species, herbicides may be incorporated into the soil before planting (pre-plant), applied after planting but before emergence (pre-emergence), or applied after the maize plants emerge (post-emergence). Ideally, for maize production, weeds should be controlled for the full season. However, the most critical period for weed control is usually about six to eight weeks after crop emergence, during the 4th to 10th leaf stages. This critical period in the life cycle of maize must be kept weed free in order to prevent yield loss.
The transgenic maize line TC1507 was genetically engineered to resist ECB, Southwestern corn borer, fall armyworm, and black cutworm by producing its own insecticide. Two novel genes, cry1Fa2 and pat were introduced into the maize hybrid line Hi-II using a microprojectile bombardment (biolistic) transformation technique.
The cry1Fa2 gene, isolated from the common soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) var. aizawai, produces the insect control protein Cry1F, a delta-endotoxin. Cry proteins, of which Cry1F is only one, act by selectively binding to specific sites localized on the lining of the midgut of susceptible insect species. Following binding, pores are formed that disrupt midgut ion flow, causing gut paralysis and eventual death due to bacterial sepsis. Cry1F is lethal only when eaten by the larvae of lepidopteran insects (moths and butterflies), and its specificity of action is directly attributable to the presence of specific binding sites in the target insects. There are no binding sites for the delta-endotoxins of B. thuringiensis on the surface of mammalian intestinal cells, therefore, livestock animals and humans are not susceptible to these proteins.
In addition to the cry1Fa2 gene, TC1507 was developed to allow for the use of glufosinate ammonium, the active ingredient in phosphinothricin herbicides (Basta®, Rely®, Liberty®, and Finale®), as a weed control option, and as a breeding tool for selecting plants containing the cry1Fa2 gene. Glufosinate chemically resembles the amino acid glutamate and acts to inhibit an enzyme, called glutamine synthetase, which is involved in the synthesis of glutamine. Essentially, glufosinate acts enough like glutamate, the molecule used by glutamine synthetase to make glutamine, that it blocks the enzyme's usual activity. Glutamine synthetase is also involved in ammonia detoxification. The action of glufosinate results in reduced glutamine levels and a corresponding increase in concentrations of ammonia in plant tissues, leading to cell membrane disruption and cessation of photosynthesis resulting in plant withering and death.
Glufosinate tolerance in TC1507 maize is the result of introducing a gene encoding the enzyme phosphinothricin-N-acetyltransferase (PAT) isolated from the common aerobic soil actinomycete, Streptomyces viridochromogenes, the same organism from which glufosinate was originally isolated. The PAT enzyme catalyzes the acetylation of phosphinothricin, detoxifying it into an inactive compound. The PAT enzyme is not known to have any toxic properties.
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This record was last modified on Wednesday, June 17, 2015