, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 103-112

A field study of pollen-mediated gene flow from Mediterranean GM rice to conventional rice and the red rice weed

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to assess the frequency of pollen-mediated gene flow from a transgenic rice line, harbouring the gusA and the bar genes encoding respectively, β-glucuronidase and phosphinothricin acetyl transferase as markers, to the red rice weed and conventional rice in the Spanish japonica cultivar Senia. A circular field trial design was set up to investigate the influence of the wind on the frequency of pollination of red rice and conventional rice recipient plants with the transgenic pollen. Frequencies of gene flow based on detection of herbicide resistant, GUS positive seedlings among seed progenies of recipient plants averaged over all wind directions were 0.036 ± 0.006% and 0.086 ± 0.007 for red rice and conventional rice, respectively. However, for both red rice and conventional rice, a clear asymmetric distribution was observed with pollination frequency favoured in plants placed under the local prevailing winds. Southern analyses confirmed the hemizygous status and the origin of the transgenes in progenies of surviving, GUS positive plants. Gene flow detected in conventional rice planted at 1, 2, 5 and 10 m distance revealed a clear decrease with increasing distance which was less dramatic under the prevailing wind direction. Consequences of these findings for containment of gene flow from transgenic rice crops to the red rice weed are discussed. The precise determination of the local wind conditions at flowering time and pollination day time appear to be of primary importance for setting up suitable isolation distances.