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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Impact of herbivory and pollination on performance and competitive ability of oilseed rape transformed for pollen beetle resistance

Åhman, Inger; Lehrman, Anna; Ekbom, Barbara


Competitive ability of transgenic oilseed rape transformed with a pea lectin gene was estimated by comparisons of its performance when grown in a mixture with its non-transgenic counterpart and when grown singly, with and without pollen beetles present. The experiments were carried out in cages, once with bumblebees as pollinators and once without. In the absence of herbivory but with the presence of bumblebees, singly grown plant lines without lectin generally performed better than lines with lectin. Pollen beetles affected plant growth and reproduction, but there were no consistent differences between the lectin and non-lectin plant lines indicating that the transgenic trait did not protect plants from pest attack. Herbivory reduced the number of seeds when bumblebees were present. In the absence of bumblebees, however, plants produced more seeds with pollen beetles than without, indicating that some pollination was carried out by the beetles. Efficient pollination affected the competitive abilities of the lines; lectin lines were more competitive with bumblebees present and the reverse was true when bumblebees were absent. In the presence of bumblebees, lectin lines gained from being grown mixed with its non-transgenic counterpart. Because the transgenic plants expressed pea lectin in developing pollen it is possible that pollen quality in those plants was reduced, which may explain why the lectin lines had an advantage over non-lectin lines when exchange of pollen between the two plant types was facilitated by bumblebees.


fitness; pea lectin; herbivory; pollination; seed production; viability

Published in

Arthropod-Plant Interactions
2009, Volume: 3, number: 2, pages: 105-113