Quantification and risk assessment of seed-mediated gene flow with flax as a platform crop for bioproducts

  • Author / Creator
    Dexter, Jody Elaine
  • Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is being considered as a platform crop for the development of bioproducts. Potential benefits of bioindustrial farming include the provison of bioenergy and biomaterials, and opportunities for biorefining. Prior to the commercialization of crops intended for bioproducts however, the safety of the food/feed system and the environment must be assured. As part of a preliminary biosafety assessment I conducted a literature review and experiments to quantify seed-mediated gene flow from flax to the environment and food/feed system. Flax seed losses at harvest, seed persistence in soil, efficacy of herbicides to control volunteer survival and fecundity in subsequent crops, volunteerism (density and occurrence) and volunteer emergence periodicity in follow crops in commercial fields were examined. Total seed losses at harvest in commercial fields were variable (2.7 to 44.2 kg ha-1). Flax has a short longevity in the seed bank (2 to 3 years). Flax has been selected for reduced seed dormancy and volunteer flax seed persistence may be hastened by burial. Compared to other domesticated crops, flax has a prolonged period of emergence and calculated EM50 values (the growing degree days required for 50% emergence) ranged from 227 to 340 growing degree days (GDD). Flax volunteers reached their period of peak emergence earlier in conventional tillage than in reduced tillage fields. Volunteer flax densities were highest prior to herbicide applications (10.4 to 570.2 plants m-2) in all fields the year following flax production (2005) and diminished over time. Volunteers that emerge in the spring may be controlled with registered herbicides. Glyphosate and fluroxypyr tank-mixed with either monohydrate sodium salt of 2,4-dicholorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4-D) or monochlorophenoxyacetic acid Ester 500 (MCPA) were most effective in reducing volunteer flax density, biomass, and fecundity. These herbicides also reduced the adventitious presence of volunteer flax seed in spring wheat (from over 8.5% to 0.16%). Best management practices could be adopted to mitigate seed-mediated gene flow from flax in agricultural productions systems, but thresholds of zero are not biologically realistic. The agronomic baseline data generated in this thesis however, suggests that flax may be an appropriate crop platform for bioindustrial products.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Dr. Linda Hall (Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Melissa Hills (Biology, Grant MacEwan College)
    • Dr. Christian Willenborg (Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science)
    • Dr. Micheal Deyholos (Biological Sciences)
    • Dr. Randall Weselake (Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science)
    • Dr. Clarence Swanton (Weed Science, Weed Ecology, Cropping Systems, University of Guelph)