Benefits of transgenic insect resistance in Brassica hybrids under selection

Cynthia L. Sagers, Jason P. Londo, Nonnie Bautista, Edward Henry Lee, Lidia S. Watrud, George King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Field trials of transgenic crops may result in unintentional transgene flow to compatible crop, native, and weedy species. Hybridization outside crop fields may create novel forms with potential negative outcomes for wild and weedy plant populations. We report here the outcome of large outdoor mesocosm studies with canola (Brassica napus), transgenic canola, a sexually compatible weed B. rapa, and their hybrids. Brassica rapa was hybridized with canola and canola carrying a transgene for herbivore resistance (Bt Cry1Ac) and grown in outdoor mesocosms under varying conditions of competition and insect herbivory. Treatment effects differed significantly among genotypes. Hybrids were larger than all other genotypes, and produced more seeds than the B. rapa parent. Under conditions of heavy herbivory, plants carrying the transgenic resistance were larger and produced more seeds than non-transgenic plants. Pollen derived gene flow from transgenic canola to B. rapa varied between years (5%-22%) and was not significantly impacted by herbivory. These results confirm that canola-weed hybrids benefit from transgenic resistance and are aggressive competitors with congeneric crops and ruderals. Because some crop and crop-weed hybrids may be competitively superior, escapees may alter the composition and ecological functions of plant communities near transgenic crop fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Brassica
  • Bt Cry1Ac
  • Feral species
  • Herbivory
  • Plutella xylostella
  • Risk assessment
  • Weed evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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