Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

World-first science GE discovery

15 June 2010

 

World-first science GE discovery that could lead to more productive farms and reduced greenhouse gases

AgResearch scientists and the team from subsidiary company, Grasslanz Technology Ltd, believe they can improve white clover (Trifolium repens) to give grazing animals a higher intake of protein, while at the same time reducing methane emissions.  In addition, the genetic breakthrough could improve animal health and reduce nitrogen waste, all issues important for sustainable farming. 

The key is to develop white clover that contains beneficial concentrations of ‘condensed tannins’ in their leaves.  Condensed tannins are a complex group of chemical compounds that are able to bind to and protect protein from breakdown in the stomach of sheep, cattle and other ruminants.  However, they exist only in trace amounts in forage plants such as white clover and are entirely absent in grasses.  There are some naturally occurring forage legumes that contain significant levels of tannins, but they are not suitable for pasture as they are difficult to establish and manage and do not persist under grazing conditions.

There are over 250 different types of clover, but only two are known to accumulate high levels of condensed tannins in their leaves.  By using genetic techniques as a research tool, AgResearch scientists have compared these two to white clover and uncovered a pivotal gene that increases levels of condensed tannins in white clover leaves.  A related tannin gene was then located in white clover itself, although this native gene at present remains switched off. Understanding how the ‘switches’ work may result in clovers which have not been genetically modified but have a reactivated tannin gene.  The technology has significant value for New Zealand but in the current regulatory environment some of the work will continue with partners offshore.

Dr Jimmy Suttie, AgResearch’s Science & Technology General Manager, Applied Biotechnologies Group says that, if realised, this huge breakthrough will benefit the environment, farmers and industry.  “Currently white clover contains extremely low levels of tannins found only in the flowers, and if we can alter this to allow condensed tannins to accumulate to effective levels in leaves then we’ll have a major benefit.

“There is evidence that tannins can reduce methane emissions from ruminants, and this increases the importance of our work,” says Dr Suttie.

Another benefit may be reducing bloat in animals eating clover rich pastures. Bloat is caused by retention of gas in the stomach, which can lead to the death of the animal and is common particularly in spring when pasture growth is rapid.
he work on the genetics of tannin production in clovers has been taking place for a number of years but is now at a point where there is progress to report

 ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Superu Report: Land Regulation Drives Auckland House Prices

Land use regulation is responsible for up to 56 per cent of the cost of an average house in Auckland according to a new research report quantifying the impact of land use regulations, Finance Minister Steven Joyce says. More>>

ALSO:

Fletcher Whittled: Fletcher Dumps Adamson In Face Of Dissatisfaction

Fletcher Building has taken the unusual step of dumping its chief executive, Mark Adamson, as the company slashed its full-year earnings guidance and flagged an impairment against Australian assets. More>>

ALSO:

No More Dog Docking: New Animal Welfare Regulations Progressed

“These 46 regulations include stock transport, farm husbandry, companion and working animals, pigs, layer hens and the way animals are accounted for in research, testing and teaching.” More>>

ALSO:

Employment: Most Kiwifruit Contractors Breaking Law

A Labour Inspectorate operation targeting the kiwifruit industry in Bay of Plenty has found the majority of labour hire contractors are breaching their obligations as employers. More>>

ALSO:

'Work Experience': Welfare Group Opposes The Warehouse Workfare

“This programme is about exploiting unemployed youth, not teaching them skills. The government are subsidising the Warehouse in the name of reducing benefit dependency,” says Vanessa Cole, spokesperson for Auckland Action Against Poverty. More>>

ALSO:

Internet Taxes: Labour To Target $600M In Unpaid Taxes From Multinationals

The Labour Party would target multinationals operating in New Zealand to ensure they don't avoid paying tax if it wins power and is targeting $600 million over three years through a "diverted profits tax," says leader Andrew Little. More>>

ALSO: