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Evaluating biological containment strategies for pollen-mediated gene flow

  • Alexandra Hüsken, Sabine Prescher and Joachim Schiemann

Abstract

Several biological containment methods have been developed to reduce pollen dispersal; many of them only have a proof of concept in a model plant species. This review focuses on biological containment measures which were tested for their long-term efficiency at the greenhouse or field scale level, i.e. plastid transformation, transgene excission, cleistogamy and cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS). Pollen-mediated gene transfer in transplastomic tobacco could occur at very low frequencies if the predominant mode of inheritance is maternal. Transgene excision from tobacco pollen can be made highly efficient by coexpression of two recombinases. For cleistogamous oilseed rape it was shown that some flowers were partially open depending on genotypes, environment and recording dates. Reports on the stability of CMS in maize and sunflower indicated that there is a high variability for different genotypes under different environmental conditions and over successive years. But for both crop types some stable lines could be selected. These data demonstrate that the biological containment methods discussed are very promising for reducing gene flow but that no single containment strategy provides 100% reduction. However, the necessary efficiency of biological containment methods depends on the level of containment required. The containment level may need to be higher for safety purposes (e.g. production of special plant-made pharmaceuticals), while much lower containment levels may already be sufficient to reach coexistence goals. It is concluded that where pollen-mediated gene flow must be prevented altogether, combinations of complementary containment systems will be required.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: alexandra.huesken@jki.bund.de

References

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Evaluating biological containment strategies for pollen-mediated gene flow

  • Alexandra Hüsken, Sabine Prescher and Joachim Schiemann

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