Fitness of herbicide resistance genes revisited

Last August, an article was published in New Phytologist that claimed a transgene added to rice could increase the fitness of a weedy relative. The paper was covered in the media pretty widely. When I read the paper, I didn’t think the authors presented nearly enough data to support their conclusions. You can find my criticisms in detail here. I think it is worth revisiting this paper now for a couple of reasons. The first is that two formal criticisms …

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Could a herbicide-resistance gene provide fitness benefits in the absence of the herbicide?

A really interesting study was reported by Nature News, and has been picking up steam around the interwebs (including¬†Wired and Scientific American). The headlines read “Genetically modified crops pass benefits to weeds” and “weeds get unintended ‘fitness’ boost from genetic modification.” The stories are reporting on a study in New Phytologist titled “A novel EPSP synthase transgene for glyphosate resistance stimulates growth and fecundity in weedy rice (Oryza sativa) without herbicide.” Sorry, not open access. I’ve read the paper a …

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