Ecological aspects of transgenic sugar beet: transfer and expression of herbicide resistance in hybrids with wild beets
- Cite this article as:
- Bartsch, D. & Pohl-Orf, M. Euphytica (1996) 91: 55. doi:10.1007/BF00035276
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An increasing number of genetically engineered cultivars of several crops is being experimentally released into the environment. In future, crops with new transgenic traits will probably play an important role in agricultural practice. The long-term effect of transgenes on community ecology will depend on the distribution and establishment of transgenic plants in the wild, on the sexual transfer of their new genes to the environment and on the potential ecological impact of the transgenic trait. The starting point was the use of transgenic sugar beet lines, Beta vulgaris subspec. vulgaris var. altissima DÖLL (Helm 1957), with transgenes coding for rhizomania and herbicide (BASTA®) resistance. The first two questions to answer were: Can the transgenes be transferred via pollen to wild beets, Beta vulgaris subspec. maritima (L.) ARCANG. or cultivated relatives such as red beet or spinach beet and are they expressed in the hybrids? Can transgenes be monitored in young Beta vulgaris-hybrids? The experimental transfer of transgenes was conducted in 1993 at a field location in northern Germany. The beets were hand-pollinated with transgenic pollen. In a non destructive biotest, the hybrid seedlings were tested for herbicide resistance. Transgenic plants showed no noxious phenotypic effects whereas control plants developed leaf necroses. All herbicide resistant hybrids within the biotest were assumed to be transgenic.