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Ecol Appl. 2006 Oct;16(5):1967-74.

Relative fitness of transgenic vs. non-transgenic maize x teosinte hybrids: a field evaluation.

Author information

1
Laboratoire de Botanique Evolutive, Institut de Botanique, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland. roberto.guadagnuolo@unine.ch

Abstract

Concern has been often expressed regarding the impact and persistence of transgenes that enter wild populations via gene flow. The impact of a transgene and its persistence are largely determined by the relative fitness of transgenic hybrids and hybrid derivatives compared to non-transgenic plants. Nevertheless, few studies have addressed this question experimentally in the field. Despite the economic importance of maize, and the fact that it naturally hybridizes with the teosinte taxon Zea mays ssp. mexicana, sometimes known as "chalco teosinte," the question has received little experimental attention in this system. Using a glyphosate-tolerant maize cultivar and chalco teosinte as parental lines, we carried out a field experiment testing (1) the relative fitness of maize x teosinte hybrids, compared to their parental taxa, as well as (2) the relative fitness of transgenic hybrids compared to non-transgenic hybrids created from the same parental stock. In order to evaluate the influence of the transgenic construct in different genetic backgrounds, our study included transgenic and non-transgenic pure maize progeny from the cultivar as well. We measured both vegetative and reproductive parameters. Our results demonstrated that hybrids have greater vigor and produced more seeds than the wild parent. However, in the absence of selective pressure from glyphosate herbicide, we did not observe any direct positive or negative impact of the transgene on the fitness or vigor of either the hybrids or pure maize progeny. We discuss our results in terms of the potential for spontaneous transgene flow and introgression from transgenic maize into sympatric teosinte.

PMID:
17069387
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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