We have previously described a non-selective method for scoring somatic recombination in the genome of whole plants. The recombination substrate consists of a defective partial dimer of Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) sequences, which can code for production of viable virus only upon homologous recombination; this leads to disease symptoms on leaves. Brassica napus plants (rapeseed) harbouring the recombination substrate as a transgene were used to examine the time in plant development at which recombination takes place. The analysis of three transgene loci revealed recombination frequencies specific for each locus. Recombination frequencies were increased if more than one transgene locus was present per genome, either in allelic (homozygosity of the transgene locus) or in non-allelic positions. In both cases, the overall recombination frequency was found to be elevated to approximately the sum of the frequencies for the individual transgene loci or slightly higher, suggesting that the respective transgene loci behave largely independently of each other. For all plants tested (single locus, two or multiple loci) maximal recombination frequencies were of the order of 10-6 events per cell division.
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