Genetic modification of fruit plants ? directions, successes and obstacles
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Genetically engineered plant products are entering their twelfth year of significant presence on the world's marketplace. Most of them represent major agronomic crops and in spite of the genetic engineering potential for plant improvement, the technology has not been widely exploited in fruit plants. There are three reasons of this situation: economical relations (high cost of the study in comparison with low demand for the products), public opinion concerning 'safe food', and real scientific obstacles such as problems with successful plant transformation or post-transformal regeneration). Despite those facts, studies on transformation of fruit and ornamental species are conducted in many laboratories in the world, and their directions can be summarized as following: a) improvement of pest-resistance (fire blight and scab resistant apple; virus-resistant plum, papaya, citrus pest-resistant data palm, pineapple, almond, passifruit, olive), b) enhanced tolerance to abiotic stress with dehydrin protein genes and by over-expression of antioxidant enzyme (APX or SOD) genes; c) improvement of fruit quality (health-benefits compounds) based on genomics and proteomics. Due to consumers and growers concerns, considerable effort is put into developing a suite of strategies to eliminate non-acceptable genes (marker genes after plant selection by site-specific recombination, homologous, transposition, and original transgene from fruits by the use of GM-rootstocks and non-fruit-specific promoters) and to avoid uncontrolled gene transfer.
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Malgorzata Korbin, Instytut Sadownictwa i Kwiaciarstwa, ul. Pomologiczna 18, 96-100 Skierniewice, Poland