Are neopolyploids a likely route for a transgene walk to the wild? The Aegilops ovata × Triticum turgidum durum case




Spontaneous hybridization between durum wheat (Triticum turgidum durum) and Aegilops ovata is regularly observed in nature. The frequency of spontaneous amphiploidy in sympatric populations was estimated at 10−6 (direct in situ observations and germinated seed collected from A. ovata plants). In nursery conditions some genotype combinations gave frequencies that were much higher at 10−3. Genomic in situ hybridization revealed that fertile amphiploids had arisen through unreduced gametes, and that some of them carried wheat − A. ovata recombinant chromosomes. The frequency of production of unreduced gametes is probably genetically inherited. Amphiploids provide a route for gene flow, including that of transgenes, to the wild. Gene flow could potentially be minimized through the choice of wheat cultivars that produce a low frequency of unreduced gametes. © 2004 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2004, 82, 503–510.