Design and management of field trials of transgenic cereals.
ABSTRACT The development of gene transformation systems has allowed the introgression of alien genes into plant genomes, thus providing a mechanism for broadening the genetic resources available to plant breeders. The design and the management of field trials vary according to the purpose for which transgenic cereals are developed. Breeders study the phenotypic and genotypic stability of transgenic plants, monitor the increase in homozygosity of transgenic genotypes under field conditions, and develop backcross generations to transfer the introduced genes into secondary transgenic cereal genotypes. For practical purposes, they may also multiply seed of the transgenic lines to produce sufficient amounts of grain for the detailed analysis of trait(s) of interest, to determine the field performance of transgenic lines, and to compare them with the non-transformed parental genotypes. Prior to variety registration, the Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) tests and Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) experiments are carried out in field trials. Field testing includes specific requirements for transgenic cereals to assess potential environmental risks. The capacity of the pollen to survive, establish and disseminate in the field test environment, the potential for gene transfer, the effects of products expressed by the introduced sequences and phenotypic and genotypic instability that might cause deleterious effects must all be specifically monitored, as required by EU Directives 2003/701/EC (1) on the release of genetically modified higher plants in the environment.