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Research Project: Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource Preservation and Quality Assessment

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Title: Migratory beekeeping practices contribute insignificantly to transgenic pollen flow among fields of alfalfa produced for seed

Author
item BOYLE, NATALIE - Washington State University
item KESOJU, SANDYA - Washington State University
item Greene, Stephanie
item Martin, Ruth
item WALSH, DOUG - Washington State University

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2016
Publication Date: 11/16/2016
Citation: Boyle, N., Kesoju, S., Greene, S.L., Martin, R.C., Walsh, D. 2016. Migratory beekeeping practices contribute insignificantly to transgenic pollen flow among fields of alfalfa produced for seed. Journal of Economic Entomology. 110(1):6–12. doi: 10.1093/jee/tow243.

Interpretive Summary: Increased use of genetically engineered (GE) crops in agriculture has raised concerns over contamination between transgenic and conventional agricultural varieties due to the movement of pollinators. This study evaluated whether beekeeping practices influence GE pollen flow among isolated alfalfa fields. Twelve honey bee colonies were permitted to forage on GE alfalfa blossoms for one week in Touchet, WA, USA. The hives were then transported 112 km to caged conventional alfalfa plots following 8 or 32 hours of isolation. Alfalfa seed harvested from the conventional plots was assessed for presence of the transgene using a novel seedling germination assay. We found that 8 hours of isolation from a GE alfalfa source virtually eliminated incidence of cross pollination between GE and non GE varieties.

Technical Abstract: Increased use of genetically engineered crops in agriculture has raised concerns over pollinator-mediated gene flow between transgenic and conventional agricultural varieties. This study evaluated whether contracted migratory beekeeping practices influence transgenic pollen flow among spatially isolated alfalfa fields. Twelve honey bee colonies were permitted to forage on transgenic alfalfa blossoms for one week in Touchet, WA, USA. The hives were then transported 112 km to caged conventional alfalfa plots following 8 or 32 hours of isolation from the transgenic source. Alfalfa seed harvested from the conventional plots was assessed for presence of the transgene using a novel seedling germination assay. We found that 8 hours of isolation from a transgenic alfalfa source virtually eliminated incidence of cross pollination between the two varieties.