Contracted commercial beekeeping operations provide an essential pollination service to many agricultural systems worldwide. Increased use of genetically engineered crops in agriculture has raised concerns over pollinator-mediated gene flow between transgenic and conventional agricultural varieties. This study evaluated whether contracted migratory beekeeping practices influence transgenic pollen flow among spatially isolated alfalfa fields. Twelve honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies were permitted to forage on transgenic alfalfa blossoms for 1 wk in Touchet, WA. The hives were then transported 112 km to caged conventional alfalfa plots following one and two nights of isolation (8 and 32 h, respectively) from the transgenic source. Alfalfa seed harvested from the conventional plots was assessed for the presence of the transgene using a new seedling germination assay. We found that 8 h of isolation from a transgenic alfalfa source virtually eliminated the incidence of cross-pollination between the two varieties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science