Changes in fitness-associated traits due to the stacking of transgenic glyphosate resistance and insect resistance in Brassica napus L.

J. P. Londo, M. A. Bollman, C. L. Sagers, E. H. Lee, L. S. Watrud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Increasingly, genetically modified crops are being developed to express multiple stacked traits for different types of transgenes, for example, herbicide resistance, insect resistance, crop quality and tolerance to environmental stresses. The release of crops that express multiple traits could result in ecological changes in weedy environments if feral crop plants or hybrids formed with compatible weeds results in more competitive plants outside of agriculture. To examine the effects of combining transgenes, we developed a stacked line of canola (Brassica napus L.) from a segregating F 2 population that expresses both transgenic glyphosate resistance (CP4 EPSPS) and lepidopteran insect resistance (Cry1Ac). Fitness-associated traits were evaluated between this stacked genotype and five other Brassica genotypes in constructed mesocosm plant communities exposed to insect herbivores (Plutella xylostella L.) or glyphosate-drift. Vegetative biomass, seed production and relative fecundity were all reduced in stacked trait plants when compared with non-transgenic plants in control treatments, indicating potential costs of expressing multiple transgenes without selection pressure. Although costs of the transgenes were offset by selective treatment, the stacked genotype continued to produce fewer seeds than either single transgenic line. However, the increase in fitness of the stacked genotype under selective pressure contributed to an increased number of seeds within the mesocosm community carrying unselected, hitchhiking transgenes. These results demonstrate that the stacking of these transgenes in canola results in fitness costs and benefits that are dependent on the type and strength of selection pressure, and could also contribute to changes in plant communities through hitchhiking of unselected traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-337
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Brassica napus
  • fitness costs
  • glyphosate drift
  • herbivory
  • stacked transgenes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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