Monitoring gene flow from transgenic sugar beet using cytoplasmic male-sterile bait plants
Saeglitz, C.; Pohl, M.; Bartsch, D.
Department of Biology V, Ecology, Ecochemistry and Ecotoxicology, Aachen
University of Technology-RWTH Aachen, Worringerweg 1, 52056 Aachen, Germany
Molecular Ecology vol. 9 (12) p.2035-2040, 2000
One of the most discussed environmental effects associated with the use of transgenic plants is the flow of genes to plants in the environment. The flow of genes may occur through pollen since it is the reproductive system that is designed for gene movement. Pollen-mediated gene escape is hard to control in mating plants. Pollen from a wind pollinator can move over distances of more than 1000 m. To investigate the efficiency of transgenic pollen movement under realistic environmental conditions, the use of bait plants might be an effective tool. . As the pollen source, transgenic sugar beets were used that express recombinant DNA encoding viral (beet necrotic yellow vein virus) resistance, and antibiotic (kanamycin) and herbicide (glufosinate) tolerance genes. In a field trial, the effectiveness of a hemp (Cannabis sativa) stripe containment strategy was tested by measuring the frequency of pollinated CMS bait plants placed at different distances and directions from a transgenic pollen source. The results demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the containment strategy. Physiological and molecular tests confirmed the escape and production of transgenic offspring more than 200 m behind the hemp containment. Since absolute containment is unlikely to be effective, the CMS-bait plant detection system is a useful tool for other monitoring purposes. 27 ref