Biotechnology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Plant Sciences
Genetically-modified (GM) crops must be assessed before they are released into the environment. Our research examines the potential for gene flow and negative ecological impacts from the release of GM turfgrasses. Gene flow can produce hybrid offspring with transgenes and novel traits that could change the ability of the plant to survive and spread. If hybrid offspring have an advantage in the environment, they could become invasive and/or affect other components of our ecosystems. Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) is a common, non-native turfgrass that is a weed and could hybridize with other Agrostis species. At present, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering an application to allow commercialization of genetically-modified herbicide-resistant (HR) creeping bentgrass. If approved, there is a probability that the transgenic HR trait would move into feral bentgrass populations and create environmental hazards over various temporal and spatial scales. This poster reports on the development of the Habitat Suitability Model using botanical surveys, ecological variables and GIS data for a golf course study site in central Connecticut. It has been concluded that many feral bentgrass populations exist near the golf course site, these bentgrass populations overlap with 11 state-listed species, and bentgrasses frequently co-exist with invasive plants. Therefore, the escape of HR creeping bentgrass could produce undesirable outcomes such as difficulty in invasive plant or weed management, genetic pollution, increased bentgrass weediness, and loss of biodiversity.
Auer, Carol; Ahrens, Collin; Chung, Jinwon; and Meyer, Thomas, "Characterizing Bentgrass Distribution with Spatial and Biological Data To Support Ecological Risk Assessment in Connecticut" (2009). Plant Science Presentations and Proceedings. Paper 6.