Transgenic Research

, Volume 2, Issue 6, pp 356–364

Frequency and distance of pollen dispersal from transgenic oilseed rape (Brassica napus)


  • Jodi A. Scheffler
    • Cambridge LaboratoryAFRC Institute of Plant Science Research, John Innes Centre
  • Russell Parkinson
    • Cambridge LaboratoryAFRC Institute of Plant Science Research, John Innes Centre
  • Philip J. Dale
    • Cambridge LaboratoryAFRC Institute of Plant Science Research, John Innes Centre

DOI: 10.1007/BF01976177

Cite this article as:
Scheffler, J.A., Parkinson, R. & Dale, P.J. Transgenic Research (1993) 2: 356. doi:10.1007/BF01976177


The objective of this study was to evaluate pollen dispersal inBrassica napus (oilseed rape). The selectable marker, used to follow pollen movement, was a dominant transgene (bar) conferring resistance to the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium. Transgenic and non-transgenic plants of the cultivar Westar were planted in a 1.1 ha field trial, with the transgenic plants in a 9 m diameter circle at the centre, surrounded by non-transgenic plants to a distance of at least 47 m in all directions. A 1 m circle of non-transgenic plants was sown in the centre of the transgenic area to allow estimation of the level of pollen dispersal when plants were in close contact. Honeybee hives were placed at the trial site to optimize the opportunity for cross-pollination. During the flowering period, regular observations were made of the number of plants flowering and the number and type of insects present in 60 1 m2 areas. These areas were located uniformly around the plot at distances of 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, 36 and 47 m from the edge of the 9 m circle of transgenic plants. Seed samples were harvested from each of the 7 distances so that approximately 20% of the circumference of the plot was sampled at each distance. The centre non-transgenic circle was also sampled. Plants were grown from the seed samples and sprayed with glufosinate to estimate the frequency of pollen dispersal at each distance. In order to screen enough samples to detect low frequency cross-pollination events, seed samples were tested in the greenhouse and on a larger scale in the field. Results were confirmed by testing progeny for glufosinate resistance and by Southern blot analysis. The estimated percentage of pollen dispersal in the non-transgenic centre circle was 4.8%. The frequency was estimated to be 1.5% at a distance of 1 m and 0.4% at 3 m. The frequency decreased sharply to 0.02% at 12 m and was only 0.00033% at 47 m. No obvious directional effects were detected that could be ascribed to wind or insect activity.


Brassica napusoilseed rapetransgenic cropspollen dispersalinsect pollination

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© Chapman & Hall 1993