Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 149, Issue 1–4, pp 303–322 | Cite as

Quantifying the introgressive hybridisation propensity between transgenic oilseed rape and its wild/weedy relatives



In order to estimate the introgressive hybridisation propensity (IHP) between genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape (Brassica napus) and certain of its cross-compatible wild/weedy relatives at the landscape level, a conceptual approach was developed. A gene flow index was established enclosing the successive steps to successfully achieve introgressive hybridisation: wild/weedy relatives and oilseed rape should co-occur, have overlapping flowering periods, be compatible, produce viable and fertile progeny, and the transgenes should persist in natural/weedy populations. Each step was described and scored, resulting in an IHP value for each cross-compatible oilseed rape wild/weedy relative. The gene flow index revealed that Brassica rapa has the highest introgressive hybridisation propensity (IHP value = 11.5), followed by Hirschfeldia incana and Raphanus raphanistrum (IHP = 6.7), Brassica juncea (IHP = 5.1), Diplotaxis tenuifolia and Sinapis arvensis (IHP = 4.5) in Flanders. Based on the IHP values, monitoring priorities can be defined within the pool of cross-compatible wild/weedy oilseed rape relatives. Moreover, the developed approach enables to select areas where case-specific monitoring of GM oilseed rape could be done in order to detect potential adverse effects on cross-compatible wild/weedy relatives resulting from vertical gene flow. The implementation of the proposed oilseed rape–wild relative gene flow index revealed that the survey design of existing botanical survey networks does not suit general surveillance needs of GM crops in Belgium. The encountered hurdles to implement the gene flow index and proposals to acquire the missing data are discussed.


Biosafety Genetic engineering Geographic information system Hybridisation Introgression Oilseed rape Post-market environmental monitoring Risk assessment Vertical gene flow Wild/weedy relatives 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Production, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Division of Biosafety and BiotechnologyScientific Institute of Public HealthBrusselsBelgium

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