Notification report

General information

Notification Number

Member State to which the notification was sent

Date of acknowledgement from the Member State Competent Authority

Title of the Project
Release of genetically modified glyphosate tolerant soybean: Gene transfer in consequence of glyphosate application

Proposed period of release:
15/05/2004 to 30/09/2009

Name of the Institute(s) or Company(ies)
GSF, D-85764 Neuherberg, Germany;

3. Is the same GMPt release planned elsewhere in the Community?

Has the same GMPt been notified elsewhere by the same notifier?

If yes, notification number(s):
B/ES/97/25; B/ES/97/28; B/ES/98/11; B/ES/98/37; B/FR/00/02/08; B/FR/94/03/03; B/FR/95/03/02; B/FR/96/04/12; B/FR/97/05/20; B/FR/97/10/10; B/FR/99/01/11; B/IT/94/09-CON; B/IT/95/18; B/IT/96/23; B/IT/99/04;

Genetically modified plant

Complete name of the recipient or parental plant(s)
Common NameFamily NameGenusSpeciesSubspeciesCultivar/breeding line
soybeanfabaceaeglycineglycine max

2. Description of the traits and characteristics which have been introduced or modified, including marker genes and previous modifications:
Tolerance against the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup Ready®)

Genetic modification

3. Type of genetic modification:

6. Brief description of the method used for the genetic modification:
Particle bombardment of a soybean cell culture (parent line A5403) and regeneration to the glyphosate tolerant line (GTS 40-3-2)

7. If the recipient or parental plant is a forest tree species, describe ways and extent of dissemination and specific factors affecting dissemination:
Not applicable

Experimental Release

1. Purpose of the release:
The more or less world wide use of glyphosate resistant plants followed by an increased application of the pesticide glyphosate possess several environmental risks: In succession of a selection pressure on one side a horizontal gene transfer might occur and on the other side a loading of the leaching water with pesticides residues could be measured.
Several thousand field releases of genetically modified plants (GMP) have been performed during the last decade. The possibilities of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from plants to microorganisms are frequently evaluated in such risk assessments, although always in the absence of a selection pressure. Recently a few studies have shown a marker gene transfer from plants to bacteria based on homologous recombination. However, up to now no experimental field approaches have confirmed the occurrence of such a HGT to naturally occuring bacteria. Theoretical calculations resulted in a transfer frequency of 2 x 10-17 under idealized natural conditions. This indicates that transfer frequencies under natural conditions are extremely low. Therefore a selection pressure seems to be very important for the likelihood of a HGT. Only under a selection pressure novel genes are expected to amplify and become stable. This has been well demonstrated for various antibiotic resistance genes. Available data for BASTA application revealed a selection pressure for sugar beet cultivation (45 µM). Similarly an increased risk can be calculated for the application of Round-up-Ready (RR) (50 µM). RR crops are resistant against RR (glyphosate). Glyphosate is a competitive inhibitor of 5-enolpyruvylshikimate 3-phosphate-synthase. Using RR-soybean a strong selection pressure is given for the associated rhizobia bacteria. This might be further increased by the known root exudation of glyphosate. Therefore this systems may be a good model for the evaluation of a possible HGT in field studies. On the other hand, certain rhizobial strains can actively degrade glyphosate so that it is difficult to predict what happens in actual field situations. Due to the fact, that part of the soil and rhizosphere microbes are sensitive to glyphosate, the occurrence of transfer of the glyphosate resistant gene from the transgenic plant to selected rhizosphere microbes seems probable. Of particular interest are bacteria from the Rhizobiaceae family, because the transgene originated from Agrobacterium tumefaciens species and may move back using mechanisms of homologues recombination. Bradyrhizobium are colonising the nodules of soybean and if glyphosate-sensitve Bradyrhizobia are chosen as nodulating bacterium, the gene transfer may be stimulated. Secondly, Ochrobactrum spp., also members of the Rhizobiaceae, are found colonising the rhizosphere and could be the target of gene transfer too. While Bradyrhizbium is naturally enriched in the nodules and therefore could easily be tested in detail, Ochrobactrum can be enriched using immunotrapping with monoclonal antibodies against Ochrobactrum, which are available. Gene transfer will be demonstrated by specific PCR reaction in the enriched communities and also in pure bacterial isolates. Analyses of microorganisms involved in degradation of plant material will be carried out. Transgenic DNA might be integrated into the genome of these microorganisms, which will be studied by autoradiograsphy/FISH. Alterations of the bacterial community composition in the rhizosphere of soybean due to glyphosate application at different levels will be investigated by molecular community approaches, like the T-RFLP analysis of the 16S rDNA gene pool, by comparing the rhizosphere communities of differently exposed plants in a comparative fashion

2. Geographical location of the site:
Site: D-85764 Neuherberg
Germany, Bavaria, Neuherberg, Field: Oberschleissheim, Field-number: 422

3. Size of the site (m2):
40 m2 (4 x 1 m2 transgene, distance between the lysimeters about 2 m, including coat sowing)

4. Relevant data regarding previous releases carried out with the same GM-plant, if any, specifically related to the potential environmental and human health impacts from the release:
not given

Environmental Impact and Risk Management

Summary of the potential environmental impact from the release of the GMPts:
Glycine max is a self pollinater, which hardly has the potential to cross with cultivated plants and wild plants of the same species. A gene transfer to related wild types (perennial Glycine and Glycine soja) is not possible in Europe, because these plants are not resident in free nature. Soybean is an annual plant. Commercial soybeans don’t have a germination rest. Seeds which might fall to soil will germinate and destroyed when frost sets in. The introduced EPSPS-gene in line GTS 40-3-2 results only in a protection against the herbicide Roundup®. There are no other environmental benefits.

Brief description of any measures taken for the management of risks:
The studies are carried out in closed lysimeter systems. The lysimeters are surrounded by a coat sowing (1m) of non-transgenic soybean with a final distance > 100m to the Fröttmanninger Heath. Sowing is carried out manual, 2-3 cm under soil. After the end of the studies, remaining soybeans (including seeds) will be removed manual. Possible remaining seeds in the soil can germinate and will be destroyed when frost sets in. In addition, caused by the high moisture of the seeds, germination will disappear when frost sets in. The GSF site is surrounded by a fence and the entrance is controlled. In addition the lysimeter building is surrounded by a further fence and access is given only by the Institute of Soil Ecology.

Summary of foreseen field trial studies focused to gain new data on environmental and human health impact from the release:
See C.1.

Final report

European Commission administrative information

Consent given by the Member State Competent Authority:
Not known