Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Escaped oilseed rape: occurrence in the agricultural landscape and potential pollen-mediated gene flow from crop oilseed rape.

Abstract

To assess the role of feral oilseed rape (OSR) plants as resources for pollinators and avenues for gene flow, we compared occurrence of feral populations in standardized agricultural landscapes, using a landscape ecological approach. The occurrence of feral and volunteer populations was investigated in relation to differences in road length and width, number of OSR fields, and landscape scale. The potential for pollen-mediated gene flow from crop to feral oilseed rape was investigated with fluorescent dye in a field experiment. Moreover, greenhouse estimates of pollen germination rate and pollen tube growth rate were performed to get an indication of siring success in crop and feral plants. Escaped OSR occurred in 14 out of the 16 investigated landscapes, and feral populations were more common alongside large roads than small roads in large-scale landscapes. The number of plants in a habitat ranged from 1-160 individuals, with 1-19 habitats per landscape. In the field experiment with fluorescent dye, no transfer of dye was detected during early flowering in May. At the end of the flowering period in June, transfer of dye was found in 71.4% of the feral plants, showing that significant transfer, most likely by pollinators, occurred from the field to the feral plants. There was no difference in pollen germination rate between crop and feral plants. Pollen tube growth rate was significantly higher in feral oilseed rape than in the crop (P < 0.001). Our results contribute to increased understanding of (i) the utilization of feral populations by pollinators in an intensively farmed agricultural landscape, and (ii) crop-feral gene flow within OSR.