Pollen-mediated transgene flow is a major concern for the production of genetically modified (GM) rice. Cleistogamy is a useful tool for preventing this form of gene flow. We previously identified the cleistogamous rice mutant superwoman1-cleistogamy (spw1-cls) and determined its molecular genetic mechanism. In the present study, we cultivated spw1-cls over five years to examine effects of cleistogamy on agronomic traits. Simultaneously, we cultivated cleistogamous backcross lines created by continuous backcrossing with “Yumeaoba” (a japonica cultivar) as the recurrent parent and by application of a DNA marker. In these experimental cultivations, spw1-cls and its backcross lines showed almost equal or slightly lower, but acceptable, agronomic traits compared with each control line. We also conducted natural crossing tests in paddy fields to assess the gene containment capability of spw1-cls. In a series of field experiments, there was no natural crossing between spw1-cls (pollen donor) and pollen recipient lines, but the wild-type donor and recipient lines were crossed. Thus, the cleistogamy of the spw1-cls mutation is able to inhibit natural crossing effectively, without significant loss of commercial benefits, such as yield. We conclude that spw1-cls cleistogamy is a practical tool for gene containment in GM rice cultivation.
Keywords: rice, cleistogamy, gene containment, pollen dispersal, agronomic traits, dCAPS marker, natural crossing