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May 1998
Table of

May 1998 Volume 16 Number 5 p401
Chloroplast-transgenic plants are not a gene flow panacea
Joseph E. Cummins
Department of Plant Science, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

There is chloroplast gene flow through pollen in higher plants. Two articles in Nature Biotechnology1,2 make the blanket claim that there is a lack of gene flow through pollen. The original research was done with tobacco in which there is clear evidence of gene flow through tobacco pollen under selection pressure by a herbicide like drug tentoxin3. It is well known that chloroplasts are mainly inherited through pollen in conifers4, while major crops such as alfalfa inherit plastids from both pollen and egg5. In rice there is occasional biparental inheritance of chloroplast genes6, while in peas there is cultivar variability for the presence of plastid DNA in pollen7. Interestingly in rapeseed, paternal mitochondrial DNA was transferred to the egg but not paternal chloroplast DNA8.



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