Genetic engeneering in agriculture is used to biologically control invasive weeds, insects, and other pests such as rot causing microorganisms. Researchers are studying a new gene called ubiquitin7 or ubi7. This gene prevents rot-causing microbes from destroying crops. Research scientists in California have been doing experiments using potatoes to test out the effectiveness of the ubi7 gene.
The process that the researchers went through is first they cut a piece of the ubi7 gene and then they attatched it to a soft rotting gene. When the ubi7 gene is attached to the test speciments that have the soft rotting gene on it ubi7 becomes a promoter. The job of ubi7 is to turn another gene on. Promoters from one gene can be fitted to another gene to boost the second genes effectiveness. The promoter also determines when and where to turn on the gene.
There is a bacterium called E. carotovora which is a soil dwelling microbe that invades the field and storage. This bacterium causes unhealthy tissue to become watery and soft and eventually foul smelling. This bacterium ruins fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants.
In Albany a team of researchers discovered a new gene and named it ubi3, ubiquitin3. This gene is quite similar to ubi7 except that ubi3 seems to be a better all purpose promoter that is good at switching the gene on and leaving it on.
Research is still on-going and scientists are making much headway in the area of biotechnology but there is still the controversy over the whole issue of genetic engineering and manipulating nature.
Agricultural Research - U.S. Department of Agriculture, January 1998