Transgene Dispersal Through Pollen

  • Laura C. Hudson
  • Matthew D. Halfhill
  • C. Neal StewartJr
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology™ book series (MIMB, volume 286)


Techniques used for the transfer of novel genes into host plant genomes have created new possibilities for crop improvement. The implementation of transgenic crop species into agriculture has introduced the possibility of transgene escape into the environment via pollen dispersal. Although the movement of pollen is a critical step in transgene escape, there is currently no system to monitor transgenic pollen movement under field conditions. The development of an effective in vivo monitoring system suitable for use under field conditions is needed for research and commercial purposes so potential risks can be quantified and evaluated. This chapter describes the development of a model system using green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression in pollen as a marker to monitor pollen distribution patterns. A pollen specific promoter was used to express the GFP gene in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.). GFP was visualized in pollen and growing pollen tubes using fluorescent microscopy. Furthermore, the goal of this research was to compare the dynamics of pollen movement with that of gene flow by using another method of whole plant expression of GFP (see  Chapter 15) to estimate out-crossing frequencies by progeny analysis. Pollen movement and gene flow were quantified under field conditions. Pollen traps were collected and screened for presence of GFP-tagged pollen using fluorescence microscopy. Progeny from wild type plants were screened with a hand held ultraviolet light for detection of the GFP phenotype.

Key Words

Gene flow green fluorescent protein Nicotiana tabacum out-crossing pollen flow transgenic 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura C. Hudson
    • 1
  • Matthew D. Halfhill
    • 1
  • C. Neal StewartJr
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxville

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