Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Cynthia L. Sagers

Committee Member

William J. Etges

Second Committee Member

Michelle Evans-White

Keywords

Biological sciences, Agroecology, Brassicaceae, Transgene flow

Abstract

With the rising demand for food and biofuels, the efficiency of crop production has become vital to assuring food security. Genetically engineered (GE) crop varieties are broadly thought to be a solution for improving the efficiency of crop production, but concerns regarding their release have heightened as more discoveries have focused on the influence of genetically engineered crops on native and weedy plant species. Risk assessment of GE crop varieties focuses on two main areas: feralization of crop systems and crop-weed hybridization. Risks include naturalization, transgene introgression, and the formation of novel genotypes in natural systems. In this study, roadside surveys and sentinel plant experiments were conducted in North Dakota, U.S.A. in order to assess the risks facing natural plant communities by crop migration and crop to weed gene flow. We documented the establishment of transgenic, persisting canola (Brassica napus L.) populations on a large spatial scale in the U.S.A. and the development of novel genotypes within these populations. We also identify species and population level differences in hybridization rates between transgenic canola and weedy Brassica species within a commercial field environment.

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