Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • GM maize detoxifies herbicide


Scientists have developed a way for crops to detoxify glyphosate, the herbicide trademarked as Roundup by the US-based Monsanto company. It may lead to increased competition and challenge Monsanto's dominance of the genetically modified (GM) crop market.

The researchers first identified a bacterial enzyme that detoxifies glyphosate. Through a process of 'directed evolution' they shuffled the genes that produce the enzyme, making it 10,000 times more efficient. When the genes were inserted into maize plants it enabled them to tolerate six times the concentration of glyphosate normally applied.

Most GM crops grown worldwide are engineered to resist glyphosate through the 'Roundup Ready' technique developed by Monsanto. But the herbicide remains in the plants and can interfere with reproductive development, reducing yields. Preliminary studies suggest that the new approach should also work in other crops.

Link to full news story in Science

Link to research paper by Castle et al in Science

References: Science 304, 1089 (2004) / Science 304, 1151 (2004)

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.