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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Effects of transgenic rootstocks on growth and development of non-transgenic scion cultivars in apple

Smolka, Anders; Li, Xue-Yuan; Welander, Margareta; Zhu, Li-Hua


Although cultivation of genetic modified (GM) annual crops has been steadily increasing in the recent 10 years, the commercial cultivation of GM fruit tree is still very limited and reports of field trials on GM fruit trees are rare. This is probably because development and evaluation of GM fruit trees require a long period of time due to long life cycles of trees. In this study, we report results from a field trial on three rolB transgenic dwarfing apple rootstocks of M26 and M9 together with non-transgenic controls grafted with five non-transgenic scion cultivars. We intended to investigate the effects of transgenic rootstock on non-transgenic scion cultivars under natural conditions as well as to evaluate the potential value of using the rolB gene to modify difficult-to-root rootstocks of fruit trees. The results showed that all rolB transgenic rootstocks significantly reduced vegetative growth including tree height regardless of scion cultivar, compared with the non-transgenic rootstocks. Flowering and fruiting were also decreased for cultivars grown on the transgenic rootstocks in most cases, but the fruit quality was not clearly affected by the transgenic rootstocks. Cutting experiment and RTPCR analysis showed that the rolB gene was stably expressed under field conditions. PCR and RT-PCR analyses displayed that the rolB gene or its mRNA were not detectable in the scion cultivars, indicating no translocation of the transgene or its mRNA from rootstock to scion. Our results suggest that rolB modified rootstocks should be used in combination with vigorous scion cultivars in order to obtain sufficient vegetative growth and good yield. Alternatively, the rolB gene could be used to dwarf vigorous rootstocks of fruit trees or produce bonzai plants as it can significantly reduce the vegetative growth of plants.


rolB; GM apple rootstock; Scion cultivar; Growth; Flower; Fruit quality

Published in

Transgenic Research
2010, Volume: 19, number: 6, pages: 933-948
Publisher: SPRINGER