Transgenes Going Wild? Risk Assessment of Transgene Introgression from Crops into Wild Relatives

11 - 15 July 2011

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Description and Aim

The rapid development of biotechnology offers new opportunities for improving food security. Novel traits can be introduced into crops by genetic engineering more efficiently than by conventional crop breeding technology. However, transgenes could escape from crops into wild relatives via gene flow and introgression. This may have unwanted ecological and evolutionary consequences in wild populations, depending on the nature of the transgene and its effect. Previous studies indicate that for major crops the hybridizations with wild relatives are frequent and may have consequences, such as increased weediness. However, little is known about how often such hybridizations lead to introgression and the possible role of transgenes in such processes is poorly understood. We need to examine genetic evidence for the introgression of crop alleles into wild populations, and develop models to simulate introgression and its effects on wild species.


The objectives of the workshop are to:

1) present relevant research findings about transgene introgression risk assessment;

2) discuss the most effective methodology for transgene introgression risk assessment;

3) make suggestions for risk assessment frameworks.

We hope the workshop can bring together ecologists, molecular biologists, population geneticists, environmental scientists, mathematicians and policy makers worldwide to discuss the issues about risk assessment of transgene introgression. It is time to update our knowledge and set up new bases for the near future. Especially since the development of new generation sequencing technique, it would be feasible to obtain genome-scale insights into the occurrence of introgression in different species. The main conclusions of the workshop will be summarized for publication in an international journal. We expect our workshop can help policy makers by making recommendations for risk assessment frameworks.


    Bao-Rong Lu, Fudan University

    Detlef Bartsch, BVL

    Allison Snow, Ohio State University

    Hans Bergmans, Nat. Inst. of Public Health and Environm

    Tom de Jong, Leiden University  

    Jun Rong, Leiden University, Inst. of Biology  

    Patsy Haccou, Leiden University  

    Geert De Snoo, Leiden University

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