Research Article

Characterization and comparison of transgenic Artemisia annua GYR and wild-type NON-GYR plants in an environmental release trial

Published: August 26, 2016
Genet. Mol. Res. 15(3): gmr8273 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4238/gmr.15038273
Cite this Article:
(2016). Characterization and comparison of transgenic Artemisia annua GYR and wild-type NON-GYR plants in an environmental release trial. Genet. Mol. Res. 15(3): gmr8273. https://doi.org/10.4238/gmr.15038273
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Abstract

The anti-malarial drug, artemisinin, is quite expensive as a result of its slow content in Artemisia annua. Recent investigations have suggested that genetic engineering of A. annua is a promising approach to improve the yield of artemisinin. In this study, the transgenic A. annua strain GYR, which has high artemisinin content, was evaluated in an environmental release trial. First, GYR plants were compared with the wild-type variety NON-GYR, with regard to phenotypic characters (plant height, crown width, stem diameter, germination rate, leaf dry weight, 1000-seed weight, leave shape). Second, stress resistance in the two varieties (salt, drought, herbicide, and cold resistance) was evaluated under different experimental conditions. Finally, gene flow was estimated. The results indicated that there were significant differences in several agronomic traits (plant height, stem diameter, and leave dry weight) between the transgenic GYR and NON-GYR plants. Salt stress in transgenic and control plants was similar, except under high NaCl concentrations (1.6%, w/w). Leaf water, proline, and MDA content (increased significantly) were significantly different. Transgenic A. annua GYR plants did not grow better than NON-GYR plants with respect to drought and herbicide resistance. The two varieties maintained vitality through the winter. Third, gene flow was studied in an environmental risk trial for transgenic GYR. The maximum gene flow frequency was 2.5%, while the maximum gene flow distance was 24.4 m; gene flow was not detected at 29.2 m at any direction. Our findings may provide an opportunity for risk assessment in future commercialization of transgenic A. annua varieties.

The anti-malarial drug, artemisinin, is quite expensive as a result of its slow content in Artemisia annua. Recent investigations have suggested that genetic engineering of A. annua is a promising approach to improve the yield of artemisinin. In this study, the transgenic A. annua strain GYR, which has high artemisinin content, was evaluated in an environmental release trial. First, GYR plants were compared with the wild-type variety NON-GYR, with regard to phenotypic characters (plant height, crown width, stem diameter, germination rate, leaf dry weight, 1000-seed weight, leave shape). Second, stress resistance in the two varieties (salt, drought, herbicide, and cold resistance) was evaluated under different experimental conditions. Finally, gene flow was estimated. The results indicated that there were significant differences in several agronomic traits (plant height, stem diameter, and leave dry weight) between the transgenic GYR and NON-GYR plants. Salt stress in transgenic and control plants was similar, except under high NaCl concentrations (1.6%, w/w). Leaf water, proline, and MDA content (increased significantly) were significantly different. Transgenic A. annua GYR plants did not grow better than NON-GYR plants with respect to drought and herbicide resistance. The two varieties maintained vitality through the winter. Third, gene flow was studied in an environmental risk trial for transgenic GYR. The maximum gene flow frequency was 2.5%, while the maximum gene flow distance was 24.4 m; gene flow was not detected at 29.2 m at any direction. Our findings may provide an opportunity for risk assessment in future commercialization of transgenic A. annua varieties.