44th TWC, Tob. Work. Conf., 2010, abstr. 98

Persistence of tobacco seed in the environment

University of Kentucky, Kentucky Tobacco R&D Center, Lexington, KY, USA

The Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center conducts research on transgenic tobacco for the production of plant made pharmaceutical and industrial materials (PMPs and PMIPs). Due to the strict USDA/APHIS rule that requires containment of the transgene, tobacco seed persistence in the environment is a concern for government regulators. Or example, if an unauthorized release of transgenic tobacco seed occurred in a field, it is not known how long the seed could remain viable in the soil, and therefore, how long the field must be monitored for volunteer transgenic tobacco plants. This experiment was designed, and implemented, to ascertain the duration of time a tobacco seed could persist in the environment. Fresh seeds of three commercial tobacco cultivars were buried in the field at four different soil depths and exposed to natural seasonal environmental changes for 6 years. Each year a set of these seeds was exhumed and tested for viability. Our data shows that a tobacco seed can persist in the environment for at least 6 years.