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Pollen competition as a reproductive isolation barrier represses transgene flow between compatible and co-flowering citrus genotypes

Pons E., Navarro A., Ollitrault P., Pena L.. 2011. PloS One, 6 (10) : 13 p..

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025810

Background/Objective: Despite potential benefits granted by genetically modified (GM) fruit trees, their release and commercialization raises concerns about their potential environmental impact, and the transfer via pollen of transgenes to cross-compatible cultivars is deemed to be the greatest source for environmental exposure. Information compiled from field trials on GM trees is essential to propose measures to minimize the transgene dispersal. We have conducted a field trial of seven consecutive years to investigate the maximum frequency of pollen-mediated crop-to-crop transgene flow in a citrus orchard, and its relation to the genetic, phenological and environmental factors involved. Methodology/Principal Findings: Three different citrus genotypes carrying the uidA (GUS) tracer marker gene (pollen donors) and a non-GM self-incompatible contiguous citrus genotype (recipient) were used in conditions allowing natural entomophilous pollination to occur. The examination of 603 to 2990 seeds per year showed unexpectedly low frequencies (0.17-2.86%) of transgene flow. Paternity analyses of the progeny of subsets of recipient plants using 10 microsatellite (SSR) loci demonstrated a higher mating competence of trees from another non-GM pollen source population that greatly limited the mating chance of the contiguous cross-compatible and flowering-synchronized transgenic pollen source. This mating superiority could be explained by a much higher pollen competition capacity of the non-GM genotypes, as was confirmed through mixed-hand pollinations. Conclusions/Significance: Pollen competition strongly contributed to transgene confinement. Based on this finding, suitable isolation measures are proposed for the first time to prevent transgene outflow between contiguous plantings of citrus types that may be extendible to other entomophilous transgenic fruit tree species.

Mots-clés : citrus; plante transgénique; poncirus; citrus aurantiifolia; citrus sinensis; espagne

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