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
Biomass yield evaluation of a genetically modified poplar plantation (I)

Proposed period of release:
21/03/2012 to 21/03/2016

Name of the Institute(s) or Company(ies)
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, ;

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

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

Genetically modified plant

Complete name of the recipient or parental plant(s)
Common NameFamily NameGenusSpeciesSubspeciesCultivar/breeding line
hybrid aspensalicaceaepopuluspopulus alba x populus tremula

2. Description of the traits and characteristics which have been introduced or modified, including marker genes and previous modifications:
The team requesting the field trial authorization has generated plants from the female hybrid clone P. tremula x P. alba INRA 717 1B4 that constitutively express an AP2/B3 transcription factor from Castanea sativa. These transgenic plants, unlike the non-transformed control plants, develop sylleptic branching; apart from the branching trait, these plants do not show any other changes in their general development. These trees are kanamycin- and hygromicin B-resistant.

Genetic modification

3. Type of genetic modification:

In case of insertion of genetic material, give the source and intended function of each constituent fragment of the region to be inserted:
These trees carry a T-DNA that includes the fusion of a constitutive promoter 35S from the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV35S) and the coding region of an AP2/B3 transcription factor gene from Castanea sativa with three copies of the hemagglutinin gene (3xHA) at its 5’ end, followed by a nopaline synthase (NOS) terminator. Its selectable markers are neomycin phosphotransferase II (nptII) and hygromycin phosphotransferase (hpt).

6. Brief description of the method used for the genetic modification:
Agrobacterium-mediated explant transformation and whole plants regeneration according to the protocol described by Gallardo et al., 1999 (Gallardo F, Fu J, Cantón FR, García-Gutiérrez A, Cánovas FM and Kirby EG, 1999. Expression of a conifer glutamine synthetase gene in transgenic poplar. Planta 210: 19-26).

7. If the recipient or parental plant is a forest tree species, describe ways and extent of dissemination and specific factors affecting dissemination:
Pollen and seeds dispersal: it has been used a hybrid poplar clone that besides being normally sterile only produces female flowers, thus it does not exist pollen dispersal risk; on the other hand, the intensive management of the plantation as a short-rotation coppice with a 2-year cutting cycle, will not allow poplars to flower (flowering time for this clone occurs after 4 or 5 years), thus it does not exist seed dispersal risk.
Suckers dispersal: a 40 cm-deep concrete wall around the plot’s soil perimeter will not allow suckers to spread out.

Experimental Release

1. Purpose of the release:
The aim of the release is to test whether by means of the expression modification of the mentioned transcription factors is possible to increase the branching development and thereby rise the biomass yield of a woody species plantation under an intensive managed system. Possible future applications are biomass production for energy purposes, wood pulp production or wood production.

2. Geographical location of the site:
Madrid municipia.

3. Size of the site (m2):
300 m2.

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:
We request for the first time the release of these plants genetically modified. This particular hybrid poplar clone from the INRA has been used in other types of field trials, also in Spain, with no negative impacts described so far neather in the environment nor in the human or animal health (Jing ZP, Gallardo F, Pascual MB, Sampalo R, Romero J, Torres de Navarra A and Cánovas F., 2004. Improved growth in a field trial of transgenic hybrid poplar overexpressing glutamine synthetase. New Phytologist 164: 137-145).

Environmental Impact and Risk Management

Summary of the potential environmental impact from the release of the GMPts:
A higher degree of sylleptic branching does not confer any direct or indirect selective advantage. In any case, in a natural environment this trait would be a disadvantage compared to those trees with a larger potential to grow vertically.
A possible future application is to produce lignocellulosic biomass, which represents a cleaner and more sustainable source of energy than oil. On the other hand, this type of plantations can be established in marginal or surplus agricultural lands, so they do not directly compete with the food crop for the fertile soils.

Brief description of any measures taken for the management of risks:
1) Secured perimeter with mechanical seal, with at least 30 cm of buried mesh and 150 cm of flown fence, with a mesh size no wider than 36 mm to avoid the entrance of species from the Leporidae family and rodents.
2) Secured perimeter with a concrete wall 40-cm deep to avoid suckers to spread out.
3) Protective perimeter strip 2-meters wide.
4) Annual surveillance, in spring, to detect any unexpected onset of floral organs, while the clone to assay does not flower after 4 or 5 years and the plantation will be cut every 2 years. In case of appearance, the individual/s will be cut down and incinerated.
5) Trial plot located inside an enclosed estate with access control and security service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
6) Collection and incineration of the plant material detached from the testing trees.
7) After the trial finalization, trees will be cut down. Inmediatly after the logging, the stumps will be painted with a total herbicide and uprooted with a backhoe.

Summary of foreseen field trial studies focused to gain new data on environmental and human health impact from the release:
There are no risks of crossbreeding with other sexually compatible species (and seed production) and of horizontal gene transfer from the genetically modified plants to other organisms in their environment. On the other hand, the products coded by the introduced genes are neither toxic nor allergenic and do not entail any immediate or delayed danger for the human or animal health, even in the case of consumption.

Final report

European Commission administrative information

Consent given by the Member State Competent Authority:
23/07/2012 00:00:00