Spontaneous gene flow from rapeseed (Brassica napus) to wild Brassica oleracea

Caroline S. Ford, Joel J Allainguillaume, Charlotte J. Allender, Giulia Cuccato, Phil Grilli-Chantler, Michael J. Wilkinson

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Research on the environmental risks of gene flow from genetically modified (GM) crops to wild relatives has traditionally emphasized recipients yielding most hybrids. For GM rapeseed (Brassica napus), interest has centred on the ‘frequently hybridizing’ Brassica rapa over relatives such as Brassica oleracea, where spontaneous hybrids are unreported in the wild. In two sites, where rapeseed and wild B. oleracea grow together, we used flow cytometry and crop-specific microsatellite markers to identify one triploid F1 hybrid, together with nine diploid and two near triploid introgressants. Given the newly discovered capacity for spontaneous introgression into B. oleracea, we then surveyed associated flora and fauna to evaluate the capacity of both recipients to harm cohabitant species with acknowledged conservational importance. Only B. oleracea occupies rich communities containing species afforded legislative protection; these include one rare micromoth species that feeds on B. oleracea and warrants further assessment. We conclude that increased attention should now focus on B. oleracea and similar species that yield few crop-hybrids, but possess scope to affect rare or endangered associates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3111-3115
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2006


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