Faculté des sciences

Genetic and Ecological Consequences of Transgene Flow to the Wild Flora

Felber, François ; Kozlowski, Gregor ; Arrigo, Nils ; Guadagnuolo, Roberto

In: Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology, 2007, vol. 107, p. 173-205

Gene flow from crops to wild relatives by sexual reproduction is one of the major issues in risk assessment for the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) plants. The main factors which influence hybridization and introgression, the two processes of gene flow, as well as the accompanying containment measures of the transgene, are reviewed. The comparison of risks between Switzerland and... Plus

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    Summary
    Gene flow from crops to wild relatives by sexual reproduction is one of the major issues in risk assessment for the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) plants. The main factors which influence hybridization and introgression, the two processes of gene flow, as well as the accompanying containment measures of the transgene, are reviewed. The comparison of risks between Switzerland and Europe highlights the importance of regional studies. Differences were assessed for barley, beet and wheat. Moreover, transgene flow through several wild species acting as bridge (bridge species) has been up to now poorly investigated. Indeed, transgene flow may go beyond the closest wild relative, as in nature several wild species complexes hybridize. Its importance is assessed by several examples in Poaceae. Finally, the transgene itself has genetic and ecological consequences that are reviewed. Transgenic hybrids between crops and wild relatives may have lower fitness than the wild relatives, but in several cases, no cost was detected. On the other hand, the transgene provides advantages to the hybrids, in the case of selective value as a Bt transgene in the presence of herbivores. Genetic and ecological consequences of a transgene in a wild species are complex and depend on the type of transgene, its insertion site, the density of plants and ecological factors. More studies are needed for understanding the short and long term consequences of escape of a transgene in the wild.