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GM Crops. 2011 Jun-Dec;2(3):201-10. doi: 10.4161/gmcr.2.3.18931. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Seeds of a possible natural hybrid between herbicide-resistant Brassica napus and Brassica rapa detected on a riverbank in Japan.

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Environmental Biology Division, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan.


Transgenic herbicide-resistant varieties of Brassica napus, or oilseed rape, from which canola oil is obtained, are imported into Japan, where this plant is not commercially cultivated to a large extent. This study aimed to examine the distribution of herbicide-resistant B. napus and transgene flow to escaped populations of its closely related species, B. rapa and B. juncea. Samples were collected from 12 areas near major ports through which oilseed rape imports into Japan passed--Kashima, Chiba, Yokohama, Shimizu, Nagoya, Yokkaichi, Sakai-Senboku, Kobe, Uno, Mizushima, Kita-Kyushu, and Hakata--and the presence of glyphosate- and/or glufosinate-resistant B. napus was confirmed in all areas except Yokohama, Sakai-Senboku, Uno, and Kita-Kyushu. The Yokkaichi area was the focus because several herbicide-resistant B. napus plants were detected not only on the roadside where oilseed rape spilled during transportation but also on the riverbanks, where escaped populations of B. rapa and B. juncea grew. Samples of B. napus that were tolerant to both herbicides were detected in four continuous years (2005-2008) in this area, suggesting the possibility of intraspecific transgene flow within the escaped B. napus populations. Moreover, in 2008, seeds of a possible natural hybrid between herbicide-tolerant B. napus (2n = 38) and B. rapa (2n = 20) were detected; some seedlings derived from the seeds collected at a Yokkaichi site showed glyphosate resistance and had 2n = 29 chromosomes. This observation strongly suggests the occurrence of hybridization between herbicide-resistant B. napus and escaped B. rapa and the probability of introgression of a herbicide-resistance gene into related escaped species.

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