Genetically modifyingtreesto increase resilience has long been hounded
by regulatory hurdles and public opposition, but the latest findings of
the University of Manchester's scientists offer an important
contribution to this debate.
The applerubbery wood virus (ARWV) has infected many apple trees
worldwide. In the study, the scientists found that the symptoms of ARWV
result from the reduction in lignin, a key structural material that
supports the tissues of most plants. Further investigation found that
the enzyme phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) which is responsible for
lignin synthesis was suppressed by the plant during ARWV infection. This
results in a decrease in lignin biosynthesis, making the branches of the
tree more flexible and facilitating the release of sugars.
The mechanisms of the ARWV to modify lignin in the apple tree is very
similar to how scientists have been altering lignin in genetically
modifiedtrees, according to Manchester's scientists. This is evidence
that the new technologies that are regulated, like genetic modification,
show similarities to events that occur naturally.