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← Q&A: Plant scientists answer your questions

Q&A: Plant scientists answer your questions - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Are you going to feed potentially contaminated wheat in nearby fields to rats to test its safety?"


A small sample of the ill posed questions arising from visceral rather than rational responses. Reminds me of a " small " discussion held on this site recently!

Fri, 04 May 2012 14:19:09 UTC | #939665

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 2 by The Jersey Devil

I'm a big believer in 'transparency'.

When public funds are used for research projects then it is right and proper for the public to have information about the progress, the risks, the costs and the benefits of said research project. These types of Q&A are a good way to provide transparency.

I hope researchers view the ongoing dissemination of information to the public as an important and integral part of the research - a safety control as sure as the mesh fences and 'gas guns' being used.

I thank RDF for providing this service.

Fri, 04 May 2012 15:24:17 UTC | #939682

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 3 by Stafford Gordon

Interesting to learn that wheat is produced by parthenogenesis; I wonder how many of the protesters know or knew that.

It's encouraging to see scientists engaging with the populace in any case.

Fri, 04 May 2012 15:41:31 UTC | #939685

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 4 by Alan4discussion

@OP Why do you say insects can't carry off the GM wheat pollen?

WH: Insects do not pollinate wheat so wheat pollen will not be carried off by pollinating insects. If pollen was ‘carried off’ it is only viable for a very short time (a few minutes) so would not be a problem.

HJ: Wheat is not insect-pollinated. Wheat flowers fertilise themselves before they open. Excess pollen, which is heavy and lives for only a few hours, then falls to the ground around the plant.

Grasses and related plants are wind pollinated, so the relevant question about insects should have been, " Are there pollen eating insects which collect wheat/grass pollen?" ..and an answer to that question provided!

Some of the above questions and answers seem very amateurish and irrelevant!

Is out-crossing of transgenes from wheat possible? .-

Normally, self-pollination occurs, which means wheat plants fertilize themselves with their own pollen before flowers even open. Nevertheless – depending on genotype and climatic conditions – cross-pollination with other wheat plants is possible. It usually occurs at a rate of approximately one to two percent. The rate can increase up to 9.7 percent when weather conditions are dry and warm.

Wheat pollen is carried by wind. Dissemination is limited by its relatively high weight and small quantities. Furthermore, wheat pollen only remains viable for a very short period of time (a few minutes to three hours).

The genome structure of modern wheat is much different than its wild ancestors. Its set of chromosomes has multiplied - sixfold in the case of bread wheat (T. aestivum) and spelt (T. spelta). These two forms can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. The fertility of hybrids between plants with different numbers of chromosome sets is very limited. Durum wheat (T. durum, T. trugidium) and emmer wheat (T. dicoccum) have four sets of chromosomes, which makes them very unlikely to form fertile hybrids with bread wheat.

Some cases of wheat crossing with wild relatives have been reported. Possibilities include quack grass (Agropyron), rye (Secale cereale), and several others (e.g. Elymus, Hordeum, Leymus, Setaria, Sorghum). Most of the time, such crosses are only possible using artificial methods.

Generally speaking, the likelihood of wheat spreading transgenes to wild relatives is considered negligible

The chances of escaping genes appear small but questions such as wind pollination and potential cross breeding should have been dealt with more transparently. Some independent biologists should have been asking and answering questions.

Fri, 04 May 2012 18:55:09 UTC | #939726

Gnu Atheist's Avatar Comment 5 by Gnu Atheist

When a Mommy wheat and a Daddy wheat love eachother very much, then...

Mon, 07 May 2012 15:19:50 UTC | #940317

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

Comment 5 by Gnu Atheist - When a Mommy wheat and a Daddy wheat love each other very much, then...

Nope! With both sexes in the same plant they are Dummy or Maddy, wheats, -

@OP Wheat flowers fertilise themselves before they open.

self fertilisation, - with only the occasional crossing!

Mon, 07 May 2012 17:30:06 UTC | #940338