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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » Vegetable Crops Research » Research » Research Project #428449

Research Project: Agricultural Landscape, Pollinator Behavior and Gene Flow Risk

Location: Vegetable Crops Research

Project Number: 5090-21000-063-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 1, 2015
End Date: Mar 25, 2018

Determine how management factors that impact pollinator foraging behavior can be utilized to reduce gene flow risk in agricultural landscapes to facilitate coexistence between genetically engineered (GE) and non-GE crops. Sub-Objective A: Determine the impact of management factors on pollinator foraging. Sub-Objective B: Link pollinator foraging behavior to gene flow.

This research aims to understand factors that influence how pollinators move pollen in alfalfa fields and factors that affect the probability that pollen deposited on the stigma by a pollinator set a viable seed and therefore results in a gene flow event. Shelter location and time of the season can affect the probability that bees will move to another field. We will determine the impact of shelter location and time of the season on pollinator foraging in alfalfa seed production fields in order to determine the management strategies that best reduce the distances traveled by pollinators and therefore limit gene flow. After pollen is deposited on stigmas, different factors may affect the production of a viable seed and therefore affect how pollinator movements translate into gene flow. Two such factors are pollen viability and selfing rate. Experiments will test the impact of time since removal from the anthers and temperature on pollen viability for different alfalfa varieties. Inbreeding depression is high in alfalfa and selfed-seeds are less likely to mature relative to outcrossed seeds. A higher selfing rate would decrease seed set and may decrease gene flow by reducing the probability of siring outcrossed seed. We will determine which plant traits influence selfing and how pollinator behavior affects selfing rate for two types of pollinators. This work will contribute to the design of management strategies to reduce gene flow and facilitate coexistence between genetically engineered and non-GE crops.