Agracetus Inc., a subsidiary of W.R. Grace & Co., has geneticallytransformed the leading commercial varieties of cotton usingits particle gun technology.

Cotton seed varieties in which transgenic plants have beendeveloped include Deltapine 50, Deltapine 90, Pima S-6 and SeaIsland. The Deltapine varieties account for 25 percent of theU.S. market.

One of the genes used is a herbicide-resistance gene forbialophos, a herbicide produced by Hoechst AG under the nameBasta, said Russell Smestad, Agracetus' vice president offinance. Agracetus may be ready to conduct field trials by thesummer of 1992, Smestad said.

Agracetus of Middleton, Wis., said that cotton transformedusing the particle gun can be developed in half the time ittakes to transform cotton using Agrobacterium tumefasciens, aplant pathogen commonly used to transfer genes into plantcells.

More than 10 million acres of cotton are grown annually in theUnited States and 75 million acres worldwide. The U.S. cottoncrop is valued at $4 billion annually at the grower level. -- KB

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