As indicated above, sugarcane is closely related to the genera Erianthus, Narenga, Miscanthus and Sclerostachya. These five genera (including Saccharum) are collectively known as the Saccharum complex and are expected to be sexually compatible at some levels (Bull & Glasziou 1979; Grassl 1980; Daniels & Roach 1987).
Although many attempts to cross between these species may have been attempted in sugarcane research stations, limited publications are available. Of 96 crosses made at BSES in Queensland between Erianthus arundinaceus and S. officinarum or hybrid Saccharum spp., 26 were fertile producing over 1000 seedlings. Only 19 putative hybrids have survived, all were derived from S. officinarum as a female parent and E. arundinaceus as a male parent (Piperidis et al. 2000). Genuine hybrids were produced at a frequency of 2.8% however all of these hybrids had poor vigour and were sterile (Piperidis et al. 2000). Chromosome elimination has been observed in all putative hybrids. Molecular studies have demonstrated that E. arundinaceus is genetically quite distant from Saccharum (Nair 1999; Alix et al. 1998).
In conclusion, evidence indicated that even if the commercial hybrid sugarcanes were allowed to flower, the likelihood of gene transfer to other closely related species within the Saccharum complex or their hybrids is very low, because of genetic incompatibility.
Section 4.4 gene transfer to other genera in tribe andropogoneae
Hybridisation with Saccharum has also been attempted with some distantly related genera belonging to tribe Andropogoneae such as Imperata (blady grass), Sorghum (sorghum)and Bambusa (bamboo) (Nair 1999; Rao et al. 1967; Janakiammal 1938; Thomas & Venkatraman 1930). These claims for intergeneric hybrids are based on anatomical morphological and cytological studies but have never been verified by molecular analysis. A few of these putative intergeneric hybrids could not be accepted as true hybrids (Grassl 1980; Nair 1999; Rao et al. 1967).
Histological analysis of crosses between S. officinarum, S. robustum, S spontaneum plus seven Saccharum hybrids and Bambusa indicated that abortion of hybrid embryos occurred during the early embryogenic stage (Rao et al. 1967). Four mature seeds were obtained from 960 crosses using Bambusa as a female parent, all putative hybrid seeds were either from S. spontaneum or S. robustum as male parents. These putative hybrids either failed to germinate from seed or died at seedling stage (Rao et al. 1967).
Sorghum species have been artificially crossed with Saccharum hybrids (Grassl 1980) and S. officinarum (Nair 1999). Wild Sorghum species are among the weeds of Australian sugarcane crops (McMahon et al. 2000) and are widespread in Australia (Hnatiuk 1990). Generally, the offspring have been of low vigour and fertility, but back crossing to both parents have been achieved (Grassl 1980; Sreenivasan et al. 1987). However, Grassel (1980) recorded that after the 4th to 5th generation of backcrossing to sorghum, the sugarcane chromosomes had been eliminated from the intergeneric hybrids.
Imperata (blady grass) is capable of crossing with Saccharum (Sreenivasan et al. 1987). Imperata cylindrica is reported in Australia (Clifford & Ludlow 1978; Hartley 1979; Hnatiuk 1990; Clifford & Ludlow 1978; Hartley 1979). I. cylindrica is a perennial species that commonly grows on degraded or burnt-off land in most Australian sugarcane-growing districts. It is a common weed in Queensland (Kleinschidmidt & Johnson 1977), and although it occurs in all Australian states (Auld & Medd 1987; Australia's Virtual Herbarium 2004) it is not listed as a noxious weed in any jurisdiction (National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee 2002).
There is one report of experimental cross between I. cylindrica and a Saccharum hybrid, producing triploid progeny resembling sugarcane, which could apparently self-fertilise to produce F2 progeny (Daniels & Roach 1987; Sreenivasan et al. 1987). Thus, intergeneric gene transfer involving existing commercial sugarcane hybrids may be possible by hand-pollination under experimental conditions designed to overcome natural barriers to cross-pollination but such artificial hybrids have not been observed in the wild.
Section 4.5 Gene Transfer to other Organisms
The only way by which genes could be transferred from sugarcane to other than plants is by horizontal gene transfer. Such transfers have not been demonstrated under natural conditions (Nielsen et al. 1997; Nielsen et al. 1998; Syvanen 1999) and deliberate attempts to induce them have so far failed (Coghlan 2000; Schlüter et al. 1995).
Transfer of plant DNA to bacteria has been demonstrated under highly artificial laboratory conditions (Gebhard & Smalla 1998; Mercer et al. 1999; Nielsen et al. 1998), but even then only at a very low frequency. Phylogenetic comparison of the sequences of plant and bacterial genes suggests that horizontal gene transfer from plants to bacteria during evolutionary history has been extremely rare, if occurring at all (Doolittle 1999; Nielsen et al. 1998).
Recombination between viral genomes and plant DNA has only been observed at very low levels, and only between homologous sequences under conditions of selective pressure, eg. regeneration of infectious virus by complementation of a defective virus by viral sequences introduced into a genetically modified plant genome (Greene & Allison 1994; Teycheney & Tepfer 1999).
Thus, gene transfer from sugarcane to organisms other than plants is extremely unlikely. A more detailed review of horizontal gene transfer from plants to other organisms is provided in the risk assessment and risk management plans that were prepared in relation to application DIR 051/2004 for the release of GM sugarcane into the Australian environment.
Agnew, J.R. (1997). Australian sugarcane pests. Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Brisbane.
Allen, C.J., Mackay, M.J., Aylward, J.H., Campbell, J.A. (1997). New Technologies for Sugar Milling and By-product Modification. In "Intensive Sugarcane Production: Meeting the Challenges Beyond 2000", BA Keating, JR Wilson, eds. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. pp 267-285.
Allsopp, P., Samson, P., Chandler, K. (2000). Pest management. In "Manual of cane growing", M Hogarth, P Allsopp, eds. Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations, Indooroopilly, Australia. pp 291-337.
Apan, A., Held, A., Phinn, S., Markley, J. (2003). Formulation and assessment of narrow-band vegetation indices from EO-1 Hyperon imagery for discriminating sugarcane disease. Spatial Sciences 1-13.
Auld, B.A., Medd, R.W. (1987). Weeds, an illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. NSW Agriculture/Inkata Press, Melbourne, Australia.
Australia's Virtual Herbarium (2004). Available from: http://www.cpbr.gov.au/avh.html
Bernard, F.A. (1980). Cane tonnage losses in B4362 due to rust disease in two areas with different climates. Proceeedings First Inter-American Sugar Cane Seminar Florida 65-67.
Besse, P., McIntyre, C.L., Berding, N. (1997). Characterisation of Erianthus sect. Ripidium and Saccharum germplasm (Andropogoneae-Saccharinae) using RFLP markers. Euphytica93: 283-292.
Bull, T. (2000). The Sugarcane Plant. In "Manual of cane growing", M Hogarth, P Allsopp, eds. Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations, Indooroopilly, Australia. pp 71-83.
Bull, T.A., Glasziou, K.T. (1979). Sugarcane. In "Australian field crops", JV Lovett, A Lazenby, eds. Angus and Robertson Publishers, pp 95-113.
Buzacott, J.H. (1965). Cane varieties and breeding. In "Manual of cane growing.", NJ Kim, RW Mungomery, CG Hughes, eds. Sydney, Australia. pp 220-253.
Canegrowers (2004). Industry Overview. [cited 18 August 2004]. Available from: http://www.canegrowers.com.au/overview.htm
Chakraborty, P., Gupta-Bhattacharya, S., Chowdhury, I., Majumdar, M.R., Chanda, S. (2001). Differences in concentrations of allergenic pollens and spores at different heights on an agricultural farm in West Bengal, India. Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine8: 123-130.
Clifford, H.T., Ludlow, G. (1978). Keys to the families and genera of Queensland flowering plants (Magnoliophyta). Second revised edition. University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, Australia.
Coghlan, A. (2000). So far so good: for the moment, the gene genie is staying in its bottle. New Scientist2231: 4.
Courtney, P. (2002). Improving the bottom line. Available from: www.abc.net.au/landline/stories/s724134.htm
Cox, M., Hogarth, M., Smith, G. (2000). Cane breeding and improvement. In "Manual of cane growing", M Hogarth, P Allsopp, eds. Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations, Indooroopilly, Australia. pp 91-108.
Croft, B., Magarey, R., Whittle, P. (2000). Disease Management. In "Manual of cane growing", M Hogarth, P Allsopp, eds. Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations, Indooroopilly, Australia. pp 263-289.
D'Hont, A., Grivet, L., Feldmann, P., Rao, S., Berding, N., Glaszmann, J.C. (1996). Characterisation of the double genome structure of modern sugarcane cultivars (Saccharum spp.) by molecular cytogenetics. Molecular and General Genetics250: 405-413.
D'Hont, A., Ison, D., Alix, K., Roux, C., Glaszmann, J.C. (1998). Determination of basic chromosome numbers in the genus Saccharum by physical mapping of ribosomal RNA genes. Genome41: 221-225.
Daniels, J., Roach, B.T. (1987). Taxonomy and evolution. In "Sugarcane improvement through breading", DJ Heinz, ed Vol 11. Elsevier, Amsterdm, Netherlands. pp 7-84.
Dawson, D. (2002). Cane trash - use and management. Available from: http://www.canegrowers.com.au/share/Fact_Sheets/Cane%20trash.pdf
de la Cruz, H.O. (1990). Steam treated bagasse for fattening cattle. Effect of supplementation with Gliricidia sepium and urea/molasses. Livestock Research for Rural Development2: http://www.cipav.org.co/Irrd/Irrd2-2/osirio.htm.
de Medeiros, S.R., Machado, P.F. (1993). Effect of the replacement of steam treated sugarcane bagasse by milo upon performance of finishing cattle. Livestock Research for Rural Development5: http://www.cipav.org.co/Irrd/Irrd5-2/brazil2.htm.
Doolittle, W.F. (1999). Lateral genomics. Trends in Cell Biology9: 5-8.
Dunckelman, P.H., Legendre, B.L. (1982). Guide to sugarcane breeding in the temperate zone. US Department of Agriculture22: 1-26.
Frison, E.A., Putter, C.A.J. (1993). FAO/IBPGR Technical guidelines for the safe movement of sugarcane germplasm. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations/ International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Rome.
Garside, A.L., Smith, M.A., Chapman, L.S., Hurney, A.P., Magarey, R.C. (1997). Yield plateau in the Australian sugar industry: 1970-1990. In "Intensive Sugarcane Production: Meeting the Challenges Beyond 2000", BA Keating, JR Wilson, eds. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. pp 103-124.
Gebhard, F., Smalla, K. (1998). Transformation of Acinetobacter sp. strain BD413 by transgenic sugar beet DNA. Applied and Environmental Microbiology64: 1550-1554.
Grassl, C.O. (1980). Breeding Andropoganeae at the generic level for biomass. Sugarcane Breeders' Newsletter 41-57.
Greene, A.E., Allison, R.F. (1994). Recombination between viral RNA and transgenic plant transcripts. Science263: 1423-1425.
Ham, G., McGuire, P., Kingston, G. (2000). Irrigation of Sugarcane. In "Manual of cane growing", M Hogarth, P Allsopp, eds. Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Indooroopilly, Australia. pp 369-377.
Hammond, B.W. (1999). Saccharum spontaneum (Gramineae) in Panama: The Physiology and Ecology of Invasion. The Hayworth Press, Inc.,
Hartley, W. (1979). A checklist of economic plants in Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia.
Hnatiuk, R.J. (1990). Census of Australian Vascular Plants. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Hogarth, D.M. (1980). The effect of accidental selfing on the analysis of a diallel cross with sugarcane. Euphytica29: 737-746.
Holm, L., Doll, J., Holm, E., Pancho, J., Herberger, J. (1997). World weeds. Natural histories and distribution. John Wiley and Sons, Inc, USA.
Howard, B.V., Wylie-Rosett, J. (2002). Sugar and cardiovascular disease. Circulation106: 523-535.
Jeswiet, J. (1929). The development of selection and breeding of the sugarcane in Java. In "Proceedings of the third congress of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists", The Executive Committee, Soerabaia. pp. 44-57.
Kleinschidmidt, H.E., Johnson, R.W. (1977). Weeds of Australia. S.R. Hampson, Government Printer, Brisbane, Australia.
Lazarides, M., Cowley, K., Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO Handbook of Australian Weeds. CSIRO, Canberra, ACT.
Leng, R.A. (1991). Application of biotechnology to nutrition of animals in developing countries. FAO Technical papers, FAO, Rome.
Mackintosh, D. (2000). Sugar Milling. In "Manual of cane growing", M Hogarth, P Allsopp, eds. Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Indooroopilly, Australia. pp 369-377.
Magarey, R.C. (1994). the effect of Pachymetra root rot on sugarcane yield. Plant Disease78: 475-477.
Magarey, R.C., Bull, J.I. (2003). Relating cultivar Pachymetra root rot resistance to sugarcane yield using breeding selection trial analyses. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture43: 617-622.
McIntyre, C.L., Jackson, P.A. (2001). Low level of selfing found in a sample of crosses in Australian sugarcane breeding programs. Euphytica117: 245-249.
McIntyre, L. and Jackson, P. (1995). Does selfing occur in sugarcane? Available from: http://www.intl-pag.org/pag/4/abstracts/p165.html
McLeod, R.S., McMahon, G.G., Allsopp, P.G. (1999). Costs of major pests and diseases to the Australian sugar industry. Plant Protection Quarterly14: 42-46.
Mercer, D.K., Scott, K.P., Bruce-Johnson, W.A., Glover, L.A., Flint, H.J. (1999). Fate of free DNA and transformation of the oral bacterium Streptococcus gordonii DL1 by plasmid DNA in human saliva. Applied and Environmental Microbiology65: 6-10.
Moore, P.H. (1976). Studies on sugarcane pollen. II. Pollen storage. Phyton, Argentina34: 71-80.
Moore, P.H. (1987). Anatomy and Morphology. In "Sugarcane improvement through breeding", DJ Heinz, ed. Elsevier, Amsterdam. pp 273-311.
Moore, P.H., Nuss, K.J. (1987). Flowering and flower synchronization. In "Sugarcane improvement through breeding", DJ Heinz, ed. Elsevier, Amsterdam. pp 273-311.
National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee (2002). Weeds Australia: National weeds strategy database. Available from: http://www.weeds.org.au/noxious.htm
Nielsen, K.M., Bones, A.M., Smalla, K., van Elsas, J.D. (1998). Horizontal gene transfer from transgenic plants to terrestrial bacteria - a rare event? FEMS Microbiology Reviews22 (2): 79-103.
Nielsen, K.M., Gebhard, F., Smalla, K., Bones, A.M., van Elsas, J.D. (1997). Evaluation of possible horizontal gene transfer from transgenic plants to the soil bacterium Acinobactor calcoaceticus BD 413. Theoretical and Applied Genetics95: 815-821.
Pate, F.M. (1982). Value of treating bagasse with steam under pressure for cattle feed. Tropical Agriculture59: 293-297.
Perez R., de Azucar, M. (2004). Animal Feed Resources Information System: Saccharum officinarum: Mollasses.
Piperidis, G., Christopher, M.J., Carroll, B.J., Berding, N., D'Hont, A. (2000). Molecular contribution to selection of intergeneric hybrids between sugarcane and the wild species Erianthus arundinaceus. Genome43: 1033-1037.
Playne, M.J. (1984). Increased digestibility of bagasses by pretreatment with alkalis and steam explosion. Biotechnology and Bioengineering26: 426-433.
Preston, T.R. (1988). Molasses as animal feed: an overview. Available from: http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/s8850e/S9950E19.htm
Pursglove, J.W. (1972). Tropical crops: Monocotyledons. Longman Scientific and Technical, New York.
Randall, R.P. (2002). A global compendium of weeds. R.G. & F.J. Richardson, Meredith, Victoria.
Rao, P. S. (1980). Fertility, seed storage and seed viability in sugarcane. In "Proceedings of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists", pp. 1236-1240.
Rugg-Gunn, A.J., Murray, J.J. (1983). The role of sugar in the aetiology of dental caries: 2. the epidemiological evidence. J Dent11: 190-199.
Sansoucy, R., Aarts, G., and Leng, R.A. (1988). Molasses-urea blocks as a multinutrient supplement for ruminants. Available from: http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/s8850e/S8850E24.htm
Schlüter, K., Fütterer, J., Potrykus, I. (1995). Horizontal gene transfer from a transgenic potato line to a bacterial pathogen (Erwinia chrysanthemi) occurs - if at all - at an extremely low frequency. Bio/Technology13: 1094-1098.
Selman-Housein, G., Lopez, M.A., Ramos, O., Carmona, E.R., Arencibia, A.D., Menedez, E., Miranda, F. (2000). Towards the improvement of sugarcane bagasse as raw material for the production of paper pulp and animal feed. In "Plant genetic engineering towards the third millenium", AD Arencibia, ed. Elsevier, Amsterdam-Lausanne, New York, Oxford, Singapore, Tokyo. pp 189-193.
Sreebny, L.M. (1982). Sugar avialability, sugar consumption and dental carries. Community Dent oral Epidemiol11: 190-199.
Sreenivasan, T.V., Ahloowalia, B.S., Heinz, D.J. (1987). Cytogenetics. In "Sugarcane improvement through breeding", DJ Heinz, ed. Elsevier, Amsterdam. pp 211-253.
Syvanen, M. (1999). In search of horizontal gene transfer. Nature Biotechnology17: 833.
Tai, P.Y.P., Miller, J.D. (2001). A core collection for Saccharum spontaneum L. from the world collection of sugarcane. Crop Science Society of America41: 879-885.
Teycheney, P. Y. and Tepfer, M. (1999). Gene flow from virus-resistant transgenic crops to wild relatives or to infecting viruses. In "Gene flow and agriculture: Relevance for transgenic crops, British Crop Protection Council Symposium Proceedings No. 72", pp. 191-196.
UN Industrial Development Organisation (2002). Hydrolysed bagasse to make animal feed. Available from: http://www.unido.org/file-storage/download/?file_id=8396
University of Florida (2004). Sugarcane rust disease (Puccinia melanocephela). Available from: http://www.pbcgov.com/coopext/agriculture/sugarcane/diseases/april_04.htm
USDA (2004). Saccharum spontaneum L. wild sugarcane. USDA, http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=SASP
Venkatraman, R.S.T.S. (1922). Germination and preservation of sugarcane pollen. Agricultural Journal of India17: 127-132.
Willcox, T., Garside, A., Braunack, M. (2000). The sugarcane cropping system. In "Manual of cane growing", M Hogarth, P Allsopp, eds. Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Indooroopilly, Australia. pp 127-139.