Hello, my name is Nigel Halford.
I'm a senior scientist at Rothamsted Research in the UK.
I am going to talk about "Crop Biotechnology" and
give you an update on the current situation.
So genetic modification or GM,
not a new technology anymore.
It's a technology used for crop improvement since the 1980s.
It allows the introduction of
a single and specific gene or a small number of genes into a plant,
that's something you can't do by other methods in plant breeding.
So it's not replacing other methods in plant breeding,
it's an additional tool that plant breeders can use.
It's achieved, I'm going to show you a couple of methods.
One, you hitch a lift on a DNA fragment from nature's genetic engineer,
that's a soil bacterium called Agrobacterium tumefaciens,
or second method is by bombarding plant tissue with tiny gold particles coated with DNA.
So Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a naturally-occurring soil bacterium,
and the bacterium has been genetically engineering or genetically
modifying plants long before humans discovered how to do it.
It causes crown gall disease in plants.
What it does, it infects wounded plant tissue and it
inserts a piece of it's own DNA into the DNA of the plant cell,
and that does a number of things.
It has information on that DNA to cause a plant cell to
proliferate and you get one of these masses of undifferentiated cells,
you can see on this slide,
they can get as large as a football on a tree and that's a picture
I took in Ashridge Forest in Hertfordshire a few years ago.
It also has information in that piece of DNA to cause the cells within
that mass to stop producing unusual compounds on which the bacterium feeds.
So it genetically modifies the plant cells to feed itself.
So we can piggyback on that system.
So we take out some of the genes that
the bacterium would want to put into the plant cell.
We can put 1, 2,
3 genes that we would like to go into the plant cell.