Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 108, Issue 2, pp 315–320 | Cite as

Low frequency transmission of a plastid-encoded trait in Setaria italica

  • T. Wang
  • Y. Li
  • Y. Shi
  • X. Reboud
  • H. Darmency
  • J. Gressel


It has been claimed that engineering traits into the chloroplast will prevent transgene transmission by pollen, precluding transgene flow from crops. A Setaria italica (foxtail or birdseed millet) with chloroplast-inherited atrazine resistance (bearing a nuclear dominant red-leaf base marker) was crossed with five male-sterile yellow- or green-leafed herbicide susceptible lines. Chloroplast-inherited resistance was consistently pollen transmitted at a 3×10−4 frequency in >780,000 hybrid offspring. The nuclear marker segregated in the F2, but resistance did not segregate, as expected. Pollen transmission of plastome traits can only be detected using both large samples and selectable genetic markers. The risk of pollen transmission at this frequency would be several orders of magnitude greater than spontaneous nuclear-genome mutation-rates. Chloroplast transformation may be an unacceptable means of preventing transgene outflow, unless stacked with additional mechanisms such as mitigating genes and/or male sterility.



Prof. Z. Zhao provided some of the strains used, and Y. Wang, Y. Zhang and Y. Song gave excellent technical assistance. This research was supported by EU-INCO project grant ERB IC18 CT98 0391 the National Gongguan Plan of China 2001BA511B04 and the Gilbert de Botton chair of Plant Sciences (to JG).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Wang
    • 1
  • Y. Li
    • 1
  • Y. Shi
    • 1
  • X. Reboud
    • 2
  • H. Darmency
    • 2
  • J. Gressel
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Crop Germplasm ResourcesChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.UMR 1210, Biologie et Gestion des AdventicesInstitut National de la Recherche AgronomiqueDijon CedexFrance
  3. 3.Department of Plant SciencesThe Weizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael

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