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Effects of Chinese honeybee foraging on oilseed rape gene flow and honey ingredients

  • F. X. LIU (a1) (a2), C. P. BU (a1) (a2), T. TANG (a1) (a2), G. M. CHEN (a1) (a2), S. K. GU (a1) (a2) (a3), Y. N. WANG (a1) (a2) (a3) and X. X. ZHAO (a1) (a2)...

Summary

Honeybee foraging can transfer exogenous genes from genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) to closely related plants, which not only induces potential ecological risks but also contaminates non-GM seeds or honey products with GM ingredients. These events may lead to international trade disputes. Chinese honeybees (Apis cerana cerana Fabricius) and a herbicide (glufosinate)-resistant GM strain of B. napus (Z7B10) were studied to examine the effects of honeybee short-range foraging on oilseed rape gene flow and honey ingredients. Results showed variable frequencies of gene flow between GM and non-GM oilseed rape cultivars, with the highest frequency under nylon net isolation with artificially stocked honeybees, the lowest frequency under nylon net isolation alone, and an intermediate frequency under natural pollination, suggesting the important role of honeybee foraging in gene flow frequency. Additionally, GM pollen grains were found in honey collected from honeybees foraging on both GM and non-GM oilseed rape cultivars. The phosphinothricin acetyltransferase protein was also detected in both unbroken pollen-containing and pollen-free honey by protein testing strips, suggesting that honeybee foraging on GM oilseed rape could lead to contamination with GM ingredients. Overall, the results provide a direct scientific basis for the ecological risk assessment and safety management of GM oilseed rape.

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*To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email: xxzhao2013@163.com

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These authors contributed equally to this work.

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