Fitness of hybrids between rapeseed (Brassica napus) and wild Brassica rapa in natural habitats


Mike J. Wilkinson, Fax: (+ 44) (0)118 3788160; E-mail:


Fitness of hybrids between genetically modified (GM) crops and wild relatives influences the likelihood of ecological harm. We measured fitness components in spontaneous (non-GM) rapeseed × Brassica rapa hybrids in natural populations. The F1 hybrids yielded 46.9% seed output of B. rapa, were 16.9% as effective as males on B. rapa and exhibited increased self-pollination. Assuming 100% GM rapeseed cultivation, we conservatively predict < 7000 second-generation transgenic hybrids annually in the United Kingdom (i.e. ∼20% of F1 hybrids). Conversely, whilst reduced hybrid fitness improves feasibility of bio-containment, stage projection matrices suggests broad scope for some transgenes to offset this effect by enhancing fitness.