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RESEARCH: SCIENTISTS TEST GENE FLOW POTENTIAL OF GM CAMELINA TO RELATED SPECIES

Date : 26 June 2013

Camelina (Camelina sativa) is an oilseed crop that is becoming a model plant for studies due to its close relationship with thalecress (Arabidopsis thaliana). Genetically engineered (GE) camelina is being developed in several laboratories and field tested in the U.S. and China. Stéphane Julié-Galau of Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin and colleagues conducted a study to ensure that the crop will not cross-fertilize with other members of the mustard family Camelineae such as thalecress, a weed known as shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), and hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta).

Their findings showed that no seeds were produced in crosses with thalecress, and a few seeds developed from the crosses with hairy bittercress but eventually the embryos died at an early stage of development. A few seeds were generated from the crosses with shepherd's purse but the hybrids were both male and female sterile. The results imply that there is low likelihood to develop pollen-mediated gene flow from GE camelina to related species studied.