Initial Results of the GM Winter Wheat Field Trial Published

4 Nov. 2019: A study by Agroscope in collaboration with IPK Gatersleben (Germany) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences CAAS examined the effects of transgenic wheat with improved yield potential (HOSUT) on aphids.

The HOSUT lines express a sugar transporter under the control of a grain-specific promoter from barley. However, the gene is already active in the vegetative plant before grain formation and HOSUT plants show not only an altered sugar metabolism, but also small differences in protein and micro nutrient contents. This could change the nutritional quality for herbivorous insects. Plant-sucking aphids were chosen as model species. Three HOSUT lines were compared with the non-transformed parental cultivar Carto as well as with three conventional winter wheat cultivars. No consistent differences between the genetically modified lines and Certo in terms of development and reproduction of individual aphids (Rhopalosiphum padi und Sitobion avenae) and population development were observed in the greenhouse. For two years, aphids were also monitored in a field study with HOSUT wheat lines on the Protected Site in Zurich-Reckenholz. Here too, there were no indications of differences in susceptibility to aphids between the HOSUT lines and the parental line. The evaluated parameters of the HOSUT lines were similar to those of the conventional cultivars.

Publication (open access):
Yang Y.; Kloos S.; Mora-Ramírez I.; Romeis J.; Brunner S.; Li Y.; Meissle M. Transgenic Winter Wheat Expressing the Sucrose Transporter HvSUT1 from Barley does not Affect Aphid Performance. Insects 2019, 10, 388.

Further information on the GM winter wheat project


Field Season 2019 is Over

22.10.2019: This year, the potential opportunities and risks of genetically modified (GM) plants were once again explored in field trials on the Protected Site. The harvesting of the last apples a week ago marked the successful conclusion of the 2019 field season. As in the two preceding years, Agroscope carried out field trials with disease-resistant cisgenic potatoes and cisgenic apple trees, as well as with GM winter wheat with increased yield potential. The University of Zurich continued the multi-year trial with mildew-resistant spring wheat, and in addition cultivated new wheat lines this year (see also below, 14 March 2019 Update).

Field Trial with Fungus-Resistant Barley of the University of Zurich Authorised

13.6.2019: End of 2018, University of Zurich submitted to FOEN an application for field trials with genetically modified barley to which a wheat fungal resistance gene was introduced. The aim of the trial is to gain insights into how theses transgenic barley lines behave under field conditions, in particular concerning their fungal resistance. The first sowing is planned for spring 2020.

14.03.2019: News Release FOEN (in German) 

Continuation of Field Trials with Powdery Mildew-Resistant Wheat of the University of Zurich is authorised

14.03.2019: News Release FOEN (in German) 

University of Zurich Plans Field Trials with Transgenic Corn and Barley on the Protected Site

29.01.2019: Plant researchers at the University of Zurich have developed transgenic corn and barley lines with improved resistance against several fungal diseases thanks to the wheat resistance gene Lr34. Following successful tests in the greenhouse, the researchers are now planning to carry out field trials at the Agroscope site in Zurich-Reckenholz. It is planned to start the field trials in Spring 2019. The applications for the permits were submitted to the Federal Office for the Environment.

News Release of the University of Zurich

University of Zurich Applies for Continuation of Field Trials with Powdery Mildew-Resistant Wheat

13.11.2018: Since 2014, University of Zurich (UZH) researchers have been conducting field trials on the Protected Site at Agroscope Reckenholz with genetically modified (GM) wheat with improved powdery-mildew resistance conferred by the Pm3 resistance gene from wheat (description of the project). The release authorisation, which is a prerequisite for field trials with GM plants, expires at the end of this year. In late October 2018, the UZH submitted a new request for release to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) (information page of FOEN) which would enable it to carry out the trials for a further five years. The UZH proposes to implement the same safety measures imposed on them by the FOEN in the previous field trial.

The aim of the new trials is to investigate the offspring of a cross between the wheat lines studied to date which bear a combination of three or four Pm3 variants (‘alleles’), as well as lines with one of three Pm3 variants that have not been studied under field conditions yet. An additional aim is to characterise in the field wheat plants carrying the two Pm3 variants from rye, Pm8 and Pm17. These two genes, already introduced into wheat by classical breeding in the last century, are to be investigated individually or in combination, also with Pm3 variants from wheat. The aim of the recently requested field trial is an improved understanding of the plant immune system. Thus, the planned trial will form part of the basic research conducted at the UZH.

22.01.2018: Initial results of the field trial on GM wheat with improved powdery mildew resistance,  running since 2014, were published in an international peer-reviewed journal. For more information see media release of the University of Zurich.