Costs of resistance: A test using transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana

J. Bergelson, C. B. Purrington, C. J. Palm, J. C. Lopez-Gutierrez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evolutionary biologists have long attributed polymorphisms in resistance status to fitness costs of resistance traits. Nevertheless, pleiotropic fitness costs of resistance have been notoriously difficult to detect. We have transformed Arabidopsis thaliana with a mutant acetolactate synthase gene that confers resistance to the herbicide, chlorsulfuron. Our experiment revealed a 34% reduction in the lifetime seed production of transgenic, herbicide resistant Arabidopsis thaliana relative to their susceptible null-segregants. Our experimental design allows us to conclude that this fitness cost of resistance is caused by the pleiotropic effect of the introduced acetolactate synthase gene rather than other potential costs associated with the plasmid or mutational changes induced by plant transformation. In addition, we can attribute the cost of resistance to the presence of the resistance gene rather than an increase in gene dosage. The implications of these results for the risk assessment of transgenic crops are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1659-1663
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1377
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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