Notification report

General information

Notification Number

Member State to which the notification was sent
United Kingdom

Date of acknowledgement from the Member State Competent Authority

Title of the Project
Control of potato cyst-nematodes with minimised environmental impact

Proposed period of release:
01/04/2008 to 30/11/2010

Name of the Institute(s) or Company(ies)
University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT;

3. Is the same GMPt release planned elsewhere in the Community?

Has the same GMPt been notified elsewhere by the same notifier?

Genetically modified plant

Complete name of the recipient or parental plant(s)
Common NameFamily NameGenusSpeciesSubspeciesCultivar/breeding line
potatosolanaceaesolanumsolanum tuberosumtuberosumDesiree

2. Description of the traits and characteristics which have been introduced or modified, including marker genes and previous modifications:
To evaluate resistance conferred on potato plants to potato cyst nematode. The plants will express novel proteins either constitutively, or mainly in the root systems at sites of potato cyst nematode invasion and feeding. They will express a cystatin derived from that expressed in rice seed. It has been shown to confer resistance to potato cyst nematode in the field and it lack adverse effect on non-target organism and lack toxicity or allergenic risk to mammal. In addition a non-lethal repellent not derived from the genome of any organism will be trialled. It prevents potato cyst nematodes invading roots. As a consequence, the nematodes deplete their lipid reserves and die. This is the normal fate of the majority of potato cyst nematodes that hatch from dormant eggs even in the presence potato roots as most fail to locate and invade roots. This work will determine any impact the secretion of low levels of repellent from roots on non-target soil nematodes.

Genetic modification

3. Type of genetic modification:

In case of insertion of genetic material, give the source and intended function of each constituent fragment of the region to be inserted:
a. the selectable marker gene for resistance to neomycin from bacterial sources used to select transgenic lines after transformation
b. The frequently used promoter CaMV35S from Cauliflower mosaic virus for constitutive expression
c. the promoter from a serine threonine kinase (ARSK1) of Arabidopsis thaliana that provides differential expression of a cystatin in potato plant roots
d. a promoter from Arabidopsis thaliana that provide differential expression of a repellent in root border cells and around the root tip
e. A cystatin from rice (OcI) modified to eliminate one amino acid and with codon usages changes from those common to rice genes to those frequently associated with potato genes. It suppresses growth and fecundity of potato cyst nematode without risk to humans in their diet or non-target organisms.
f. A non-lethal repellent of synthetic origin that prevents potato cyst nematodes from invading roots.
g. A signal sequence from the calreticulin gene of Nicotiana plumbaginifoli which favours secretion of the non-lethal repellent from roots
h. A nos terminator sequence from Agrobacterium tumefaciens that terminates transcription of gene sequences. This sequence is not related to any technology that prevents seed propagation of plants.

6. Brief description of the method used for the genetic modification:
Standard procedures using Agrobacterium tumefaciens into which the constituent fragment had been cloned. Potato leaf tissue transformation leading to selection using antibiotic resistance and whole plant regeneration under contained conditions.

7. If the recipient or parental plant is a forest tree species, describe ways and extent of dissemination and specific factors affecting dissemination:
Not applicable

Experimental Release

1. Purpose of the release:
This publicly funded research programme is not linked to commercial interests. The aims that this trial underpins are
a. To demonstrates the long term potential of biosafe novel resistance as a basis for control of potato cyst nematodes that replaces dependence on pesticide based control or the hidden costs of non-optimal cultural control
b. To demonstrate that such approaches are fully biosafe and environmentally benign
c. To demonstrate field efficacy for defences that have the ability to protect many crops from nematode pests
d. To demonstrate efficacy and biosafety before transfer to other projects in both Africa and Asia that aim to suppress nematode damage to subsistence crops. Nematodes cause an estimated untaken harvest in Africa alone that is sufficient to feed 100 million people.

The specific objectives of this proposed release are:
a. to test field performance of the novel potato plants against potato cyst-nematodes
b. To evaluate the efficacy of the resistance when delivered by specific promoters that limit expression primary to where potato cyst nematodes invade or feed in potato roots. The aim so to determine if resistance is as effective as when expression is throughout the plant. There is are clear benefit to biosafety and the demand for new protein synthesis by the plant to restrict expression of even inherently safe proteins.
c. To determine that the repellent has no adverse affects on free-living soil nematodes to add to proven benign nature of cystatins that has already been demonstrated

2. Geographical location of the site:
Headley Hall Farm, Nr Tadcaster, N.Yorkshire

3. Size of the site (m2):

4. Relevant data regarding previous releases carried out with the same GM-plant, if any, specifically related to the potential environmental and human health impacts from the release:
Previous work on some lines has been carried out under DTER consent Nos. 98/R31/1 with potato expressing a cystatin is all in the public domain. The level of resistance achieved against potato cyst nematode is detailed in Urwin et al., (2001, 2003). The value of root specific promoters is considered by Lilley et al., 2004.

The environmental impact studied for these plants have also been published. (Cowgill et al., 2002a, b, 2003 and 2004, Kiezebrink and Atkinson, 2004). This work establishes considerable advantages to soil organisms relative to nematicide use and the lack of any issues of environmental concern from use of such plants. It established that a cystatin expressed in roots provides an environmentally benign basis for potato cyst nematode control.

Environmental Impact and Risk Management

Summary of the potential environmental impact from the release of the GMPts:
Environmental risks
Four hundred years of cultivation of the potato has established that the potato has limited ability to survive in UK environments except when cultivated. Plants generated from tubers are readily eliminated and potato plants are not invasive of natural habitats. The pollen of potato normally disperses less than 10m, is often infertile and cannot cross with other crop plants to produce hybrids. The overall risk to the environment from the proposed release of a cystatin-expressing potato at least 20 metres from other plants with which it is cross-fertile is low to effectively zero. This has been established in work carried under previous consent at the same site (consent No. 98/R31/).

The magnitude and probability/frequency of environmental risk for cystatins is effectively zero as established by results achieved under consent 98/R31/1. The repellent to be released is not lethal to potato cyst nematodes merely preventing invasion of roots. It is not lethal to other animals and without harm to plants and microorganisms. It is expected to have little impact on other soil nematodes. It is an aim of the study to determine impacts on soil which necessarily requires field conditions provided by his small trial. The expected environmental impact is negligible to effectively zero in contrast to use of pesticide to control nematodes that do harm a wide range of soil animals.

Brief description of any measures taken for the management of risks:
Conventional agricultural practices will be used at the field trial site. It will be at an isolation distance of more than 20 m from other potato crops or any field margin. Planting material will be brought directly from a containment facility in a van without other cargo. All tubers will be harvested by hand and be disposed of directly by a specialist, licensed company. All herbage will be destroyed with a herbicide before harvest. Volunteers managed by monitoring their removal/destruction and this will be maintained at monthly intervals until no volunteers have been detected for 3 consecutive months between April and October. In the unlikely event of unexpected plant growth once the trial has been planted, the whole area would be sprayed with an appropriate herbicide to destroy all plants and tubers lifted and destroyed by a specialist contractor.

Summary of foreseen field trial studies focused to gain new data on environmental and human health impact from the release:
a. Some of the plants to be used in the trial will express novel proteins under control of root specific promoters. The aim so to determine if resistance is as effective as when expression is throughout the plant. There are clear benefit to biosafety and the demand for new protein synthesis by the plant to restrict expression of even inherently safe proteins.

b. One aims of the trial is to determine if free-living soil nematodes and bar coding can be used as bioindicators of soil health as a basis for detecting the benign or detrimental effect of any technology or agricultural practises on soil health.

Final report

European Commission administrative information

Consent given by the Member State Competent Authority:
09/05/2008 00:00:00
In each year of the release the trial site shall not exceed 1000m2. The number of GMOs planted each year shall not exceed 4,000. No more than 12,000 should be planted altogether during the trial period which is 1 May to 30 November in 2008, 2009 and 2010.