Title Thesis: Consequences of intra-specific metabolic diversity in plants for soil organisms: a baseline approach for evaluating ecological effects of genetic modifications
Baseline approach for evaluating ecological effects of genetic modifications
Risk assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may need to be set up from a wider perspective than is currently practiced. This is the conclusion of Patrick Kabouw, who defended his thesis 1 February 2012 16.00 at Wageningen University.
Instead of comparing a GMO crop with the original variety, the GMO effects need to be considered against the full background of genetic variation present in that crop. Kabouw tested this approach using cabbage varieties (Brassica species) and concludes that currently known cabbage varieties, albeit highly variable in chemistry and other properties, do not differ in their effects on non-target organisms in the soil. Root-feeding nematodes, on the other hand, were influenced much stronger by plant varieties. Especially the numbers of root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.) were reduced by glucosinolates in the plant roots. These are defense compounds that make cabbage or Brussels sprouts less tasty.
Therefore, Patrick Kabouw concludes that when a breeder will modify root glucosinolate contents, this may have very little side effects on non-target organisms from the soil food web in crop fields.