Red rice has long been a troublesome, conspecific weed of cultivated rice. Rice varieties carrying certain herbicide-resistant traits acquired through genetic modification (herbicide-resistant varieties) now offer new options for red rice control. In concert with this innovation is the risk of gene flow, which can result in the transfer of that specific herbicide resistance to red rice and thus render this weed control measure ineffective. Gene flow in concept is simple, however, the parameters that determine the establishment of a new trait in a weed population are complex. Cross-pollination to make hybrid seed and the subsequent fate of those hybrid families in the general weed population are some of the biological factors that influence gene flow between red rice and cultivated rice. Natural outcrossing among rice plants is generally low. Most of the pollen dispersal studies published to date indicated that rice × rice outcrossing rates were less than 1.0%. Numerous reports summarized in this study suggest that outcrossing rates between rice and red rice can be highly variable but usually are similar to or lower than this level. However, once hybrids form, they may introgress into a red rice population within only a few generations. If hybrid seed families are to persist and establish herbicide-resistant red rice populations, they must successfully compete in the crop–weed complex. The ability to survive a herbicide applied to a herbicide-resistant rice variety would be a strong selective advantage for these hybrid families. Thus, the well-established principles of weed resistance management appear to be relevant for herbicide-resistant crop systems and should be used in combination with practices to minimize coincident flowering to mitigate the potential impact of gene flow from herbicide-resistant rice into red rice. For the rice–red rice crop–weed complex, there are both biological factors and agricultural practices that can work together to preserve these new weed control options.
Nomenclature: Red rice, Oryza sativa L. #3 ORYSA; rice, Oryza sativa L.
Additional index words: Genetically modified organism, glufosinate, glyphosate, herbicide tolerant, imazethapyr, introgression, outcrossing, pollen transfer, transgenic rice.
Abbreviations: ALS, acetolactate synthase (EC 188.8.131.52); bar, bialophos resistant; EPA, Environmental Protection Agency; GMO, genetically modified organism; PCR, polymerase chain reaction; USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture.