Bt modification in maize does not affect beneficial microorganisms

Bt modification in maize does not affect non-target beneficial microorganisms such as endophytes. Although Bt maize is one of the most popular GM crops in the world, little is known about potential impacts on ecosystem functionalities.

Genetically modified Bt maize contains a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which provides resistance to major insect pests. Mashiane and colleagues investigated whether genetic modification affected non-target microorganisms such as endophytic bacteria which are important in agriculture. Maize is one of the most important crops in the world - it is consumed as a staple food and as animal feed in both developing and developed countries.

Bacterial endophytes from two developmental stages of both Bt maize and its isogenic parental line were screened for their capabilities to participate in plant protection, nutrient mobilisation as well as production of a plant growth hormone. Interestingly, Mashiane and colleagues found that growth stage rather than genetic modification had a significant impact on the endophytes and their functions.

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