A direct regional scale estimate of transgene movement from genetically modified oilseed rape to its wild progenitors

Authors

  • M. J. Wilkinson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Agricultural Botany, School of Plant Sciences, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, PO Box 221, Reading, RG6 6AS, UK,
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  • I. J. Davenport,

    1. Environmental Systems Science Centre (ESSC), NERC Environmental Systems Science Centre, The University of Reading, Harry Pitt Building, Whiteknights, PO Box 238, Reading RG6 6AL, UK, and
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  • Y. M. Charters,

    1. Department of Agricultural Botany, School of Plant Sciences, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, PO Box 221, Reading, RG6 6AS, UK,
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  • A. E. Jones,

    1. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Furzebrook Research Station, Wareham, Dorset, BH 20 5AS, UK
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  • J. Allainguillaume,

    1. Department of Agricultural Botany, School of Plant Sciences, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, PO Box 221, Reading, RG6 6AS, UK,
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  • H. T. Butler,

    1. Department of Agricultural Botany, School of Plant Sciences, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, PO Box 221, Reading, RG6 6AS, UK,
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  • D. C. Mason,

    1. Environmental Systems Science Centre (ESSC), NERC Environmental Systems Science Centre, The University of Reading, Harry Pitt Building, Whiteknights, PO Box 238, Reading RG6 6AL, UK, and
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  • A. F. Raybould

    1. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Furzebrook Research Station, Wareham, Dorset, BH 20 5AS, UK
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M.J. Wilkinson. Fax: +44 118 9316577; E-mail:m.j.wilkinson@reading.ac.uk

Abstract

One of the major environmental concerns over genetically modified (GM) crops relates to transgene movement into wild relatives. The pattern of hybridization ultimately affects the scale and rapidity of ecological change and the feasibility of containment. A new procedure for quantifying hybrid formation over large areas is described. Remote sensing was used to identify possible sites of sympatry between Brassica napus and its progenitor species across 15 000 km2 of south-east England in 1998. Two sympatric populations with B. rapa and one with B. oleracea were found over the entire survey area. Every newly recruited plant in these populations in 1999 was screened for hybrid status using flow cytometry and molecular analyses. One hybrid was observed from the 505 plants screened in the B. rapa populations but none of the nine B. oleracea recruits were hybrids. Measures to minimize gene flow are suggested, and a procedure for the post-release evaluation and containment of GM cultivars is proposed.

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