Assessment of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Plants (AIGM)

Workshop on the environmental implications of genetically modified plants with fungal disease resistance, Roskilde, DK, 10-11 November 2000

The third workshop to be organised within the framework of the AIGM Programme, on the environmental implications of genetically modified plants with fungal disease resistance, was held in Roskilde, Denmark on 10-11 November 2000.  The workshop considered population biology of host-pathogen interactions in agro- and natural ecosystems as an approach to risk assessment and sustainable deployment of novel resistances.


Crop plants cover a substantial area of the land. Crop cultivation interact with the surrounding environment in ways that, depending on crop species and traits of the crop, may pose environmental risks. Much focus is on the impacts of genetically modified crop plants because these plants may have novel traits for which we have no familiarity with respect to their influence on the weediness and invasiveness. However, even for familiar traits much knowledge is missing concerning the genetic and ecological impacts of crop plants on the natural ecosystem.

Fungal disease resistance is a desirable trait and breeders have always exploited resistance genes by breeding for the most viable plants, which would have the best resistance against the prevailing diseases. However, not much is known about the impact of crop fungal disease resistance genes when introgressed into weeds and into relatives in the natural ecosystem. Also knowledge is missing on the importance of diseases as limiting factor for natural plant communities and for biodiversity. This knowledge is increasingly important when novel genes, e.g. from very different genera, are transferred into crops by genetic engineering. The kind of processes at the population and species level, which we need to understand, are:

  • interactions between host (crop and non-crop) and fungal pathogen populations
  • introgression of (disease resistance) genes from crops to wild relatives
  • invasion of crop species and hybrids (with disease resistance genes) into non-agricultural habitats

The tools needed for gaining this knowledge are experiments estimating plant and pathogen fitness, and dispersal. At the same time these processes have to be studied in theoretical models where results from experiments may be extrapolated and generalised, and important parameters are pointed out.

In this workshop we will combine experimental evidence and theoretical models to increase our understanding of the impact of fungal disease resistance on the environment. Further, we will consider establishing European networks, which on European scale can contribute to defining future requirements for risk assessments of transgenic disease resistant plants and for monitoring changes in natural ecosystems due to fungal diseases.

Workshop organisers

Resistance Biology ProgrammePlant Research DepartmentRiso National LaboratoryRoskildeDenmark
Rikke BaggerJorgensenE-Mail
Plant BiologyRISØE National LaboratoryRoskildeDenmark
The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityDepartment of Plant BiologyPlant Pathology SectionFrederiksberg CDenmark


Risoe National LaboratoryDept of Plant Biology and BiogeochemistryRoskildeDenmark

Phone: +45 4677 4110   
Fax: +45 4677 4122

Top of page