Gene flow among herbicide-resistant (HR) canola varieties can lead to the development of multiple HR canola plants, creating volunteer canola management challenges for producers. In western Canada, escaped populations of HR canola are ubiquitous outside of cultivated fields, yet the extent of gene flow resulting in herbicide resistance trait stacking in individuals within these populations remains unknown. The objectives of this study were to document the presence of single and multiple herbicide resistance traits and assess the extent of gene flow within escaped canola populations. Seed was collected from 16 escaped canola populations along the verges of fields and roadways in four agricultural regions in southern Manitoba from 2004 to 2006. Glyphosate resistance was found in 14 (88%) of these populations, glufosinate resistance in 13 (81%) populations, and imidazolinone resistance in five (31%) populations. Multiple herbicide resistance was observed at levels consistent with previously published canola outcrossing rates in 10 (62%) of the tested populations. In 2005 and 2006, maternal plants from two escaped populations were tested using trait indicator test strips for glyphosate and glufosinate resistance to confirm outcrossing events. In 2005, two of 13 tested maternal plants with single herbicide resistance traits produced progeny with both glyphosate and glufosinate resistance. In 2006, of 21 tested plants, 10 single HR maternal plants produced multiple HR progeny, and five nonresistant maternal plants produced resistant offspring. This is the first report indicating that intraspecific gene flow results in stacking of herbicide resistance traits in individuals within escaped canola populations, confirming that multiple HR canola volunteers are not confined to agricultural fields. Results of this study suggest that escaped populations of crop plants can contribute to the spread of genetically engineered novel traits, which has important implications for containment, especially for highly controversial pharmaceutical and industrial traits in crop plants.
Nomenclature: Glufosinate; glyphosate; canola, Brassica napus L. BRSNS.