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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Plant and Animal Genetic Resources Preservation » Research » Research Project #424252

Research Project: Fostering Coexistence: Seed and Pollen Mediated Gene Flow Investigations in Ge Alfalfa

Location: Plant and Animal Genetic Resources Preservation

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 to track RRA transgene flow from RRA hay and seed production fields planted during the previous deregulation (seed fields were removed in 2007) into feral alfalfa to understand the role feral alfalfa plays as a transgene reservoir and vector for long distance transgene dispersal and to study the transmission of the RR transgene from RRA hay and seed fields to conventional hay and seed fields 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. Monsanto has agreed to provide us with RRA location data and their event-specific PCR primers. 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.

3. Progress Report:
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 progress report addresses the work conducted on the project entitled: Fostering Coexistence: Seed and Pollen mediated gene flow in GE Alfalfa. In January, 2013 a postdoctoral research associate was hired to conduct the project. Up to date, the postdoc has developed an ARC GIS database to support our overall project. The postdoc has produced maps and has participated in alfalfa seed and hay field surveys in our study areas. In June the postdoc led efforts to conduct pollinator surveys in our study fields, and in August the postdoc participated with seed harvest. The postdoc has been conducting leaf, seed and seedlings assays for the Roundup-Ready Alfalfa transgene. This project will generate useful information for develop strategies to protect the genetic integrity of our alfalfa germplasm collection.

4. Accomplishments