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Crop Biotech Update

Effect of Cleistogamy in GM Rice Agronomic Traits and Gene Containment

August 3, 2012

One of the major concerns in planting biotech crops is the flow of transgenes to non-GM crops through pollen dispersal. A study investigated if cleistogamy, a form of pollination without flower-opening, is an effective technique to prevent transgene flow.

In a previous study, Shinnosuke Ohmori from National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Japan, together with other scientists, identified the cleistogamous rice mutant superwoman1-cleistogamy (spw1-cls) and characterized its molecular genetic mechanism. In their present study, they cultivated spw1-cls for five years to assess the effects of cleistogamy on certain agronomic traits. For the same time period, they also planted cleistogamous backcross lines developed from continuous backcrossing with Yumeaoba and by using a DNA marker. Results showed that spw1-cls and its backcross lines had almost the same agronomic traits with the controls.

The team also conducted natural crossing field tests to evaluate the gene containment capability of spw1-cls. No natural crossing was found between spw1-cls and pollen recipient lines unlike in wild-type and recipient lines where crossing was evident. With these findings, the researchers concluded that spw1-cls cleistogamy is an effective method for gene containment in GM rice cultivation.

Read the abstract of the study at