by Liping Ke, RuiE Liu, Bijue Chu, Xiushuang Yu, Jie Sun, Brian Jones, Gang Pan, Xiaofei Cheng, Huizhong Wang, Shuijin Zhu, Yuqiang Sun
Cotton plants engineered for resistance to the herbicides, glyphosate or glufosinate have made a considerable impact on the production of the crop worldwide. In this work, embryogenic cell cultures derived from Gossypium hirsutum L. cv Coker 312 hypocotyl callus were transformed via Agrobacterium tumefaciens with the rice cytochrome P450 gene, CYP81A6 (bel). In rice, bel has been shown to confer resistance to both bentazon and sulfanylurea herbicides. Transformed cells were selected on a liquid medium supplemented alternately or simultaneously with kanamycin (50mg/L) and bentazon (4.2 µmol). A total of 17 transgenic cotton lines were recovered, based on the initial resistance to bentazon and on PCR detection of the bel transgene. Bel integration into the cotton genome was confirmed by Southern blot and expression of the transgene was verified by RT-PCR. In greenhouse and experimental plot trials, herbicide (bentazon) tolerance of up to 1250mg/L was demonstrated in the transgenic plants. Transgenic lines with a single copy of the bel gene showed normal Mendelian inheritance of the characteristic. Importantly, resistance to bentazon was shown to be stably incorporated in the T1, T2 and T3 generations of self-fertilised descendents and in plants outcrossed to another upland cotton cultivar. Engineering resistance to bentazon in cotton through the heterologous expression of bel opens the possibility of incorporating this trait into elite cultivars, a strategy that would give growers a more flexible alternative to weed management in cotton crops.