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Genes passed from crops to weeds persist for generations

ifetime fertility of wild and hybrid varieties, the researchers also grew one population of potted radishes.

Viable pollen averaged 63 percent in the potted hybrids, as compared to 92 percent in wild plants. The hybrids produced only half as many seeds per fruit as wild plants. Although the potted hybrid plants flowered on average half a month later than the potted wild ones, the hybrid radishes still produced enough viable pollen with enough time left in the growing season for pollination to occur.

"The hybrids were capable of ecologically significant levels of reproduction," Snow said. "The second hybrid generation was still at a fitness disadvantage, but to a lesser extent than the first hybrid generation. This indicated that their reproductive fitness was increasing."

The next step is to figure out if crop genes benefit weed populations and also to gauge how easily crops can become wild.

"The constant gene flow between crops and weeds is a subtle process that no one may notice, but evolution can happen very quickly," Snow said.


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Contact: Allison Snow
Snow.1@osu.edu
614-292-3445
Ohio State University
9-Aug-2001


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