Research Articles

A spatial assessment of Brassica napus gene flow potential to wild and weedy relatives in the Fynbos Biome

M. A. McGeoch, J. M. Kalwij, J. I. Rhodes
South African Journal of Science | Vol 105, No 3/4 | a57 | DOI: | © 2010 M. A. McGeoch, J. M. Kalwij, J. I. Rhodes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 January 2010 | Published: 19 January 2010

About the author(s)

M. A. McGeoch, DST-NRF Centre for Invasion Biology, Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks, P.O. Box 216, Steenberg 7947, South Africa., South Africa
J. M. Kalwij, DST-NRF Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa. Currently: Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch., South Africa
J. I. Rhodes, DST-NRF Centre for Invasion Biology,Biosafety South Africa, 105 Wentworth, Somerset Links Office Park, De Beers Avenue, Somerset West 7130, South Africa, South Africa

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Gene flow between related plant species, and between transgenic and non-transgenic crop varieties, may be considered a form of biological invasion. Brassica napus (oilseed rape or canola) and its relatives are well known for intra- and inter-specific gene flow, hybridisation and weediness. Gene flow associated with B. napus poses a potential ecological risk in the Fynbos Biome of South Africa, because of the existence of both naturalised (alien, weedy) and native relatives in this region. This risk is particularly pertinent given the proposed use of B. napus for biofuel and the potential future introduction of herbicide-tolerant transgenic B. napus. Here we quantify the presence and co-occurrence of B. napus and its wild and weedy relatives in the Fynbos Biome, as a first step in the ecological risk assessment for this crop. Several alien and at least one native relative of B. napus were found to be prevalent in the region, and to be spatially congruent with B. napus fields. The first requirement for potential gene flow to occur has thus been met. In addition, a number of these species have elsewhere been found to be reproductively compatible with B. napus. Further assessment of the potential ecological risks associated with B. napus in South Africa is constrained by uncertainties in the phylogeny of the Brassicaceae, difficulties with morphology-based identification, and poor knowledge of the biology of several of the species involved, particularly under South African conditions.


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Crossref Citations

1. Assessing the Likelihood of Gene Flow From Sugarcane (Saccharum Hybrids) to Wild Relatives in South Africa
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