Introgression potential between safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) and wild relatives of the genus Carthamus

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Background: Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius, is a thistle that is grown commercially for the production of oil and birdseed and recently, as a host for the production of transgenic pharmaceutical proteins. C. tinctorius can cross with a number of its wild relatives, creating the possibility of gene flow from safflower to weedy species. In this study we looked at the introgression potential between different members of the genus Carthamus, measured the fitness of the parents versus the F1 hybrids, followed the segregation of a specific transgene in the progeny and tried to identify traits important for adaptation to different environments. Results: Safflower hybridized and produced viable offspring with members of the section Carthamus and species with chromosome numbers of n = 10 and n = 22, but not with n = 32. The T-DNA construct of a transgenic C. tinctorius line was passed on to the F1 progeny in a Mendelian fashion, except in one specific cross, where it was deleted at a frequency of approximately 21%. Analyzing fitness and key morphological traits like colored seeds, shattering seed heads and the presence of a pappus, we found no evidence of hybrid vigour or increased weediness in the F1 hybrids of commercial safflower and its wild relatives. Conclusion: Our results suggest that hybridization between commercial safflower and its wild relatives, while feasible in most cases we studied, does not generate progeny with higher propensity for weediness.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
  • License
    © 2011 Mayerhofer et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
  • Language
  • Citation for previous publication
    • Mayerhofer, M., Mayerhofer, R., Topinka, D., Christianson, J., & Good, A. G. (2011). Introgression potential between safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) and wild relatives of the genus Carthamus. BMC Plant Biology, 11(1), 47. doi: 10.1186/1471-2229-11-47