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Environmental biosafety of genetically engineered crops: Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) as a model system Open Access


Other title
weed control
seed mediated
Genetically engineered crops
Gene flow
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Jhala, Amitkumar
Supervisor and department
Dr. Linda M Hall (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Jocelyn Hall (Biological Sciences)
Dr. Lloyd Dosdall (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Dr. Randall Weselake (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Dr. Robert Blackshaw (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge)
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is considered as a model plant species for multipurpose uses with whole plant utilization for several purposes including industril, food, animal feed, fiber, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and bioproduct markets. Therefore, flax is in the process of genetic engineering to meet the market requirements. Prior to commercial release of genetically engineered (GE) flax, a risk assessment was conducted to determine intra- and inter-specific pollen-mediated gene flow and for quantifing and mitigating the adventitious presence (AP) of volunteer flax in canola (Brassica napus L.). The results of pollen-mediated gene flow study (crop-to-crop) suggest that about 1.85% outcrossing would occur in adjunct area, when two flax cultivars were grown in close proximity of 0.1 m apart. Some rare gene flow events were recorded maximum up to 35 m distance from the pollen source but at a very low frequency. The genus Linum has several wild and weedy species, distributed in many parts of the world. A meta-analysis was conducted to determine the potential for gene introgression from GE flax to wild relatives, the occurrence, the phylogeny of flax wild relatives and reported interspecific hybridization. The results demonstrated that cultivated flax has ability to hybridize and form viable F1 plants with at least nine species of Linum; however, none of these species have been reported to occur in Canada. Hybridization of flax with many other wild relatives has either not been studied or reported. However, based on the evidence of reported work, gene flow from GE flax to wild or weedy relatives may occur elsewhere depending on species distribution, sympatry, concurrent flowering, ploidy level and sexual compatibility. The results of the experiments to mitigate the adventitious presence of flax volunteers in canola suggest that combinations of pre-plant followed by post-emergence herbicides were most effective for reducing volunteer flax density and AP in glufosinate-resistant canola. Post-emergence application of imazamox+imazethapyr, however, was not effective for controlling volunteer flax in imidazolinone-resistant canola. Best management practices were developed to mitigate transgene movement from GE flax to ensure co-existance of GE, conventional and organic flax without market harm.
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