Environ. Biosafety Res.
Volume 5, Number 2, April-June 2006
|Page(s)||89 - 104|
|Published online||22 November 2006|
Assessing gene flow in apple using a descendant of Malus sieversii var. sieversii f. niedzwetzkyana as an identifier for pollen dispersal
Federal Centre for Breeding Research on Cultivated Plants, Institute for Fruit Breeding, Pillnitzer Platz 3a, 01326 Dresden, Germany
2 University of Applied Science Zittau/Görlitz, Theodor-Körner-Allee 16, 02763 Zittau, Germany
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
The release of genetically engineered apple trees raises the question of their potential environmental impact, and the transfer via pollen of transgenes to cross-compatible cultivars of Malus domestica and Malus species is deemed to be the greatest source for environmental exposure. The hybrid TNR 31-35, a descendant of Malus sieversii var. sieversii f. niedzwetzkyana, carrying a homozygous, dominant gene responsible for red pigmentation in all plant parts, was used to assess gene flow in an apple scion repository of genetic resources. The red pigmentation provides a morphological marker that enables large-scale evaluation of cross-fertilization under natural conditions. In two consecutive years, 60 and then 56 apple trees of 38 different Malus domestica cultivars were selected to serve as pollen-receptor trees. In these two years, 6876 and then 5513 seeds, respectively, were gathered from pollen-receptor trees located at different distances, 2–100 m from 15 pollen-dispenser trees. In total, 11 797 seedlings were examined. An average of 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively, of all seedlings obtained showed red-colored leaves. Considering both years of sampling, 69% of the seeds fertilized by TNR 31-35 were found at less than 10 m from the nearest pollen-dispenser tree. Almost 91% of all seeds fertilized by TNR 31-35 were found at less than 60 m from the nearest pollen-dispenser tree, which is equal to 30 adjacent trees along the row. In this study, pollen was dispersed at least 104 m. After phenotypical evaluation, seedlings selected as red-colored were investigated by simple sequence repeat (SSR) analysis. Each seedling was tested with at least one heteromorphic SSR-marker, which allows the verification of TNR 31-35 as the male parent. All but four seedlings showed one allele specific for the appropriate fruiting tree and the second allele specific for the pollen-dispenser TNR 31-35.
Key words: apple / cross-pollination / gene flow / Malus / red-marker gene / SSR-marker / vertical gene transfer
© ISBR, EDP Sciences, 2006