Biological Resource Management
-Connecting Science and Policy. Eds: Balazs, E., Galante, E.,
Lynch, J.M., Schepers, J.S., Toutant, J.-P., Werner, D., Werry, P.A.T.J. , Springer, Berlin.
TRANSGENIC CROPS: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
Tsaftaris A. S., Polidoros A. N., Karavangeli M., Nianiou-Obeidat I.,
Madesis P., and Goudoula C.
Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,
54006 Thessaloniki, Greece.
It is now more than fifteen years since the first transgenic plants were generated experimentally.
In that period there have been dramatic advances in our understanding on both basic and applied
aspects of plant biology.
Transgenic plant research depends on the availability of procedures for plant transformation. Two
types of method for plant transformation exist, the use of
as a biological vector for
foreign gene transfer, and direct gene transfer techniques, in which DNA is introduced into cells by the
use of physical, electrical or chemical means.
can be used to transform a wide range of
plants, but there are
number of species which are of interest for basic or applied research in which of
- mediated transformation is not reproducible or efficient. Using this procedures
thousands of transgenic crops have been developed experimentally or field tested, while few of them
are currently cultivated world wide, predominately on temperate zone crops and on conditions
prevailing in industrial countries offering the potential increasing and improving food production
capacity while limiting the use of agrochemicals and protect the environment. The " first generation "
of transgenic crops were aimed at improving traits involving single genes. Now we are on the verge of
a new step in crop modification, fueled by the rate at which new genes ( important for plant growth and
development metabolism and stress tolerance ) characterised. Transgenic technology has been pivotal
in the full spectrum of these new developments, from gene identification to an improved understanding
of their regulation, as well as genetic transformation involving more complex transfers of many genes
simultaneously. This will further help in managing natural resources like water, soil, e.t.c. in a better
Our view of the nature of crop products can also be expected to change in the short to medium
term, as plants are exploited for the production of novel compounds such as biodegradable plastics and
new pharmaceuticals. However, it is the case that the extent to which the potential of transgenic
research is realised will depend on public acceptance. To a significant extent this will require that the
biology of transgenics is fully understood, and that a maximum degree of predictability of transgene
effect, both phenotypic and genotypic, can be ensured. There is a need for diffusing this technology to
tropical plants and adapt it to benefice the small farmer in the developing world were food demands