13 November 1998

GM boron boost

CROPS prone to nutrient deficiency could soon benefit from genetic engineering.

Researchers at Davis University in California have found apples and plums avoid boron deficiency by moving the nutrient from older leaves to young growth. Cotton and sugar beet cannot do this.

As a first step to easing their potential deficiency problems the apple gene enabling boron transfer has been isolated and transferred to tobacco. From there it should be a short step to move it to cotton or sugar beet, say scientists.

If similar genes can be found the same principle could be used to combat iron, zinc and copper shortfalls in vegetables and fruit. &#42