Heterogeneity in the distribution of genetically modified and conventional oilseed rape within fields and seed lots

Graham S. Begg, Martin J. Elliott, Danny W. Cullen, Pietro P. M. Iannetta, Geoff R. Squire

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    The implementation of co-existence in the commercialisation of GM crops requires GM and non-GM products to be segregated in production and supply. However, maintaining segregation in oilseed rape will be made difficult by the highly persistent nature of this species. An understanding of its population dynamics is needed to predict persistence and develop potential strategies for control, while to ensure segregation is being achieved, the production of GM oilseed rape must be accompanied by the monitoring of GM levels in crop or seed populations. Heterogeneity in the spatial distribution of oilseed rape has the potential to affect both control and monitoring and, although a universal phenomenon in arable weeds and harvested seed lots, spatial heterogeneity in oilseed rape populations remains to be demonstrated and quantified. Here we investigate the distribution of crop and volunteer populations in a commercial field before and during the cultivation of the first conventional oilseed rape (winter) crop since the cultivation of a GM glufosinate-tolerant oilseed rape crop (spring) three years previously. GM presence was detected by ELISA for the PAT protein in each of three morphologically distinguishable phenotypes: autumn germinating crop-type plants (3% GM), autumn-germinating 'regrowths' (72% GM) and spring germinating 'small-type' plants (17% GM). Statistical models (Poisson log-normal and binomial logit-normal) were used to describe the spatial distribution of these populations at multiple spatial scales in the field and of GM presence in the harvested seed lot. Heterogeneity was a consistent feature in the distribution of GM and conventional oilseed rape. Large trends across the field (50 x 400 m) and seed lot (4 x 1.5 x 1.5 m) were observed in addition to small-scale heterogeneity, less than 20 m in the field and 20 cm in the seed lot. The heterogeneity was greater for the 'regrowth' and 'small' phenotypes, which were likely to be volunteers and included most of the GM plants detected, than for the largely non-GM 'crop' phenotype. The implications of the volunteer heterogeneity for field management and GM-sampling are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)805-816
    Number of pages12
    JournalTransgenic Research
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


    • Brassica rapa
    • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
    • Genetic Heterogeneity
    • Plants, Genetically Modified
    • Polymerase Chain Reaction
    • Seeds


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