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Gene flow from transgenic rice to red rice (Oryza sativa L.) in the field

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Abstract

In this study, we simulate a transgenic rice crop highly infested with red rice to examine transgene transfer from a transgenic line (A2504) resistant to glufosinate ammonium to cohabitant red rice. The red rice was sown along with the transgenic line at the highest density found in naturally infested crops in the region. Agricultural practices similar to those used to control red rice infestation in northern Italy rice fields were used to reproduce the local rice production system. During the first 2 years, the field was treated with herbicide at the appropriate time; in the first year the dosage of herbicide was three times the recommended amount. In this first year, detectable red rice plants that escaped herbicide treatment were manually removed. Nevertheless, two herbicide-resistant hybrid plants (named 101 and 104) were identified in the experimental field during the second year of cultivation. Phenotypic and molecular characterisation suggests the hybrid nature of these two plants, deriving from crossing events involving A2504, respectively, with red rice (plant 101) and the buffer cultivar Gladio (plant 104). The progeny of two subsequent generations of the two plants were examined and the presence of the transgene detected, indicating stable transfer of the transgene across generations. In conclusion, despite control methods, red rice progeny tolerant to the herbicide can be expected following use of transgenic rice and, consequently, difficulties in controlling this weed with chemicals will emerge in a relatively short time.

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