Fostering Coexistence: Statistical Investigations in Ge Alfalfa
Plant And Animal Genetic Resources Preservation Research Unit
2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
With the deregulation of Round up Ready alfalfa (RRA) in February 2011, there is an urgent need to complete and implement coexistence to protect alfalfa markets that are sensitive to the adventitious presence (AP) of transgenic traits. The objectives of this project are develop statistical procedures to track RRA transgene flow from RRA hay and seed production fields to understand long distance transgene dispersal and to develop a production-level model to help refine isolation distances by taking into account landscape variables.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
This project will focus on the three main alfalfa seed and hay production areas in the Western United States: the Walla Walla valley and Columbia Basin in Washington, the
Treasure Valley in Idaho and Oregon, and Fresno County in California. We will be using greenhouse seedling assays and protein based, commercially available test strips to carry out qualitative tests for RRA presence in leaf, seed and hay samples acquired along the alfalfa production pathway. Positive tests will be confirmed using PCR. Geostatistical tools will be used to understand how pollen- and seed-mediated gene flow is influenced by landscape variables and a production-level gene flow model will be developed that industry can use to guide selection of specific co-existence strategies based on location, production environment and type of pollinator used.
This progress contributes to Objective 2 of the parent project: “Conserve and regenerate priority Medicago, Trifolium, and Lotus genetic resources efficiently and effectively, and distribute pathogen-tested samples and associated information worldwide.” This agreement supports a professor in statistics. In 2013 this professor worked with members of our team to determine the most effective sampling strategy for detecting the RRA transgene on a landscape level. He has been active in helping us set up our experiments for the NIFA BRAG project, which will generate useful information for develop strategies to protect the genetic integrity of our alfalfa germplasm collection.