, Volume 117, Issue 8, pp 1281-1290
Date: 02 Sep 2008

Long distance pollen-mediated flow of herbicide resistance genes in Lolium rigidum

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Gene flow promotes genetic exchange among plant populations mediating evolutionary dynamics; yet, the importance of gene flow at distance via pollen movement is poorly understood. A field experiment at the landscape level was conducted with Lolium rigidum herbicide-susceptible individuals (population VLR1) placed into an otherwise Lolium-free bushland environment at increasing distances from adjacent large commercial crop fields infested with herbicide-resistant L. rigidum. Herbicide resistance was used as a marker to quantify the distance and the rate of pollen-mediated gene flow. About 21,245 seeds were produced on the isolated, susceptible mother plants of which 3,303 seedlings were tested for herbicide resistance and 664 seedlings were found to be resistant. Pollen-mediated gene flow occurred at 3,000 m (maximum tested distance). Both Mendelian and molecular analyses (sequencing and CAPS markers) confirmed the introgression of herbicide resistance genes. This is the first documented case of long-distance gene flow in L. rigidum. The results are important for future modeling simulations of herbicide resistance evolution and subsequent mobility. The adoption of integrated agronomic strategies, the control of potential receptor plants on fields’ margins and conservative use of herbicides can be realistic options to minimize herbicide resistance spread.