Transgenic rice as a system to study the stability of transgene expression: multiple heterologous transgenes show similar behaviour in diverse genetic backgrounds
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The success of contemporary breeding programmes involving genetic engineering depends on the stability of transgene expression over many generations. We studied the stability of transgene expression in 40 independent rice plant lines representing 11 diverse cultivated varieties. Each line contained three or four different transgenes delivered by particle bombardment, either by cotransformation or in the form of a cointegrate vector. Approximately 75% of the lines (29/40) demonstrated Mendelian inheritance of all transgenes, suggesting integration at a single locus. We found that levels of transgene expression varied among different lines, but primary transformants showing high-level expression of the gna, gusA, hpt and bar transgenes faithfully transmitted these traits to progeny. Furthermore, we found that cry1Ac and cry2A transgene expression was stably inherited when primary transformants showed moderate or low-level expression. Our results show that six transgenes (three markers and three insect-resistance genes) were stably expressed over four generations of transgenic rice plants. We showed that transgene expression was stable in lines of all the rice genotypes we analysed. Our data represent a step forward in the transfer of rice genetic engineering technology from model varieties to elite breeding lines grown in different parts of the world.
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