Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan Application for licence for dealings involving intentional release of a genetically modified organism into the environment dir 034/2003 Title: Field Trial of Genetically Modified Cotton

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Section 2 The Parent Organism

  1. A comprehensive review of the parent organism, Gossypium hirsutum L. (cultivated cotton), is provided in the document “The Biology and Ecology of Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) in Australia” (OGTR 2002) that was produced in order to inform the risk assessment processes for licence applications involving GM cotton. This document can be accessed at www.ogtr.gov.au.

Section 3 The Introduced Genes

Section 3.1 The insecticidal gene

  1. The insecticidal vip3A gene is derived from a common soil the bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis, variety kurstaki. The vip3A gene was modified for optimum expression in cotton cells, using protocols similar to those described by Perlak et al. (1991). Like the cry genes in other GM insecticidal cottons (INGARD and Bollgard II), the vip3A gene encodes a protein with specific toxicity to some lepidopteran insects, including Helicoverpa armigera and H. punctigera, pests that attack cotton in Australia. Preliminary bioassay data indicates that GM cotton expressing VIP3A protein has more potent insecticidal activity towards H. armigera than seen with INGARD cotton (information provided by applicant).

  2. The promoter driving the expression of the vip3A gene is a constitutive plant promoter from a plant closely related to species used for human food (the details of the origin and construct of the promoter are declared as CCI). The use of a plant promoter aims to provide strong expression of the bacterial gene in plant cells. The constitutive nature of the chosen promoter means it is expected that the new protein will be expressed throughout the growing season and in most of the tissues of the GM cotton. The termination and polyadenylation signals are provided by the 3’end of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens nopaline synthase gene (Depicker et al. 1982).

Section 3.2 The antibiotic resistance marker gene

  1. The GM insecticidal cotton also contains the hygromycin B phosphotransferase (hph, also called hyg, hpt or AphIV - aminoglycoside 4-phosphotransferase) antibiotic resistance marker gene from Escherichia coli. The hph gene was used in the initial laboratory stages of development of the plants, to enable selection of cells containing the desired genetic modification. It is in common use as a selectable marker in the production of GM plants. The only modification made to the hph gene was the addition of plant regulatory sequences (promoter and terminator regions) to allow expression in plant cells.

  2. Like the vip3A gene, the expression of the hph gene is driven by a constitutive plant promoter derived from a plant closely related to species used for human food (the details of the origin and construct of the promoter are declared as CCI). The termination region is derived from the 3’end of the nopaline synthase (nos) gene from A. tumefaciens (Depicker et al. 1982).

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