Global expansion in the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops has raised concerns about the adventitious presence of GE seeds in non-GE and organic products. Flax is the second most important oilseed crop in western Canada and is currently being evaluated as a potential platform for the production of bio-products. Before transgenic flax is released for commercial production, mitigation measures must be identified to reduce the adventitious presence in subsequent crops. To quantify adventitious presence of volunteer flax in spring wheat and to identify the efficacy of herbicide treatments on mitigating volunteer flax adventitious presence, research was conducted at four locations during 2005 and 2006 in central Alberta. To simulate artificial volunteer populations, flax was seeded prior to wheat at a target population of 150 plants m−2. In the untreated control, volunteer flax seed yield was 135 kg ha−1, which resulted in adventitious presence of 8.57% in spring wheat. When left uncontrolled, volunteer flax reduced wheat yields ∼57% and resulted in volunteer flax seed production of 4,755 seeds m−2. A single PRE treatment of glyphosate or glyphosate plus tribenuron reduced volunteer flax density from 39 to 4 and 6 plants m−2, respectively, seed production from 4,755 to < 58 seeds m−2, and volunteer flax seed viability from 55 to < 40%. POST herbicides, fluroxypyr plus MCPA and fluroxypyr plus 2,4-D, reduced volunteer flax seed production as low as 0.6 and 0.0 seeds m−2, respectively, adventitious presence to 0.64 and 0.03%, respectively, and seed viability to ≤ 10%. Combination of glyphosate applied PRE followed by fluroxypyr plus 2,4-D or by thifensulfuron plus tribenuron plus quinclorac applied POST reduced adventitious presence of volunteer flax in wheat to near 0%. These treatment combinations were also effective for reducing volunteer flax fecundity to 0.0 and 7.1 seeds m−2, respectively, and volunteer flax seed viability to 0 and 5%, respectively. This study demonstrated that with effective mitigation strategies, seed mediated gene flow from GE volunteer flax can be reduced.
Nomenclature: 2,4-D; fluroxypyr; glyphosate; MCPA; quinclorac; thifensulfuron; tribenuron; flax, Linum usitatissimum L.; wheat, Triticum aestivum L.