, Volume 158, Issue 1–2, pp 209–230 | Cite as

Hybridisation within Brassica and allied genera: evaluation of potential for transgene escape

  • Richard G. FitzJohn
  • Tristan T. Armstrong
  • Linda E. Newstrom-Lloyd
  • Aaron D. Wilton
  • Michael Cochrane


Determining the potential for hybridisation between transgenic crops and their relatives is a major component of risk assessment. Recent assessments of the extent of reproductive compatibility between crops and their relatives draw heavily on existing data from experimental crosses to infer the likelihood of hybridisation and introgression. Since the literature in this area continues to grow at a rapid pace, it is essential that such analyses can be easily updated. We used a database approach to assemble data on reproductive compatibility for eight crop species in Brassica, Raphanus and Sinapis, using data from hand pollination, spontaneous (unassisted) pollination and trials using in vitro techniques (e.g. embryo rescue), incorporating 326 studies and 216 species combinations. We found many reports for major crop species (B. juncea, B. napus, B. oleracea and B. rapa), but fewer for minor crops (B. carinata, B. nigra, Raphanus sativus and Sinapis alba). Many species combinations remain untested, and we highlight these information gaps. While reproductively incompatible species can be discounted as targets for transgene escape, compatible species must be evaluated further in the particular context where transgenic crops are grown. Because the data is retained in a database in a relatively unmodified form, multiple views of the data can be generated; this review represents one possible view of this data. Our approach also allows new data to be easily incorporated into future reanalyses and can be extended to other crop groups, and as such is a useful method of assembling, analysing and sharing data for risk assessment.


Brassicanapus Database Gene flow Interspecific hybridisation Risk assessment Transgenic crops 



We thank Norman Ellstrand for his advice at the start of this project and encouragement to pursue this research. Thoughtful comments from Christine Bezar, Norman Ellstrand, Peter Heenan and Bill Lee improved the manuscript. This paper is part of the Landcare Research Biosafety Project and the New Zealand Plant BioSafety Database. The funding of both these projects by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard G. FitzJohn
    • 1
  • Tristan T. Armstrong
    • 2
  • Linda E. Newstrom-Lloyd
    • 1
  • Aaron D. Wilton
    • 1
  • Michael Cochrane
    • 1
  1. 1.Landcare ResearchLincolnNew Zealand
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchAucklandNew Zealand

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