Gene flow from weedy red rice (Oryza sativa L.) to cultivated rice and fitness of hybrids.


Red rice plants are vectors of gene flow back to cultivated rice and other weedy populations. The progeny of red rice hybrids from cultivated rice mother plants have higher chances of persistence than those from red rice mother plants. Gene flow mitigation strategies should consider this scenario.

Gene transfer from weeds to crops could produce weedy individuals that might impact upon the evolutionary dynamics of weedy populations, the persistence of escaped genes in agroecosystems and approaches to weed management and containment of transgenic crops. The present aim was to quantify the gene flowrate from weedy red rice to cultivated rice, and evaluate the morphology, phenology and fecundity of resulting hybrids. Field experiments were conducted at Stuttgart and Rohwer, Arkansas, USA. Twelve red rice accessions and an imazethapyr-resistant rice (Imi-R; Clearfield) were used.

Hybrids between Imi-R rice x red rice were 138-150 cm tall and flowered 1-5 days later than the rice parent, regardless of the red rice parent. Hybrids produced 20-50% more seed than the rice parent, but had equivalent seed production to the majority of red rice parents. Seeds of all hybrids were red, pubescent and dehisced at maturity. For the majority of hybrids, seed germination was higher than that of the red rice parent. The gene flowrate from red rice to rice was 0.01-0.2% and differed by red rice biotype. The hybrids had higher fecundity and potential competitive ability than the rice parent, and in some cases also the red rice parent.

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