Plant Biology

Creeping Pollen

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Science  15 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5695, pp. 375
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5695.375c

One of the potential risks associated with introducing new genomes into crop plants is the spread of undesirable genes to other plants. Any genome, whether derived through the use of transgene technology or through more traditional genetic means, may be a source of genes spreading through related populations. Creeping bentgrass, Agrostis solonifera, is a wind-pollinated grass that is widely used on golf courses and as a forage crop. The first flowering of a modified version of creeping bentgrass into Oregon fields in 2003 offered an opportunity to follow the initial gene flow from this crop. The creeping bentgrass was genetically modified to express a gene conferring resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. Watrud et al. distributed nontransgenic A. solonifera and other compatible plants in the regions where prevailing wind conditions would suggest that pollen might travel. Analysis of offspring from these “sentinel” plants indicated that most of the pollen-mediated gene flow occurred in the direction of prevailing winds within 2 km of the source plants. The greatest distance of observed gene flow was 21 km. — PJH

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101, 14533 (2004).

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