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General Information

Document type
  • Peer-reviewed journal article
GE organism
  • wheat
GE trait
  • disease resistance
  • Switzerland


  • positive effect
  • mixed

Mixtures of genetically modified wheat lines outperform monocultures

Zeller, SL; Kalinina, O; Flynn, DF; Schmid, B
Ecological Applications. 2012 September. 22(6):1817–1826

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PMID: 23092018 DOI: 10.1890/11-0876.1 ISSN: 1051-0761


Biodiversity research shows that diverse plant communities are more stable and productive than monocultures. Similarly, populations in which genotypes with different pathogen resistance are mixed may have lower pathogen levels and thus higher productivity than genetically uniform populations. We used genetically modified (GM) wheat as a model system to test this prediction, because it allowed us to use genotypes that differed only in the trait pathogen resistance but were otherwise identical. We grew three such genotypes or lines in monocultures or two-line mixtures. Phenotypic measurements were taken at the level of individual plants and of entire plots (population level). We found that resistance to mildew increased with both GM richness (0, 1, or 2 Pm3 transgenes with different resistance specificities per plot) and GM concentration (0%, 50%, or 100% of all plants in a plot with a Pm3 transgene). Plots with two transgenes had 34.6% less mildew infection and as a consequence 7.3% higher seed yield than plots with one transgene. We conclude that combining genetic modification with mixed cropping techniques could be a promising approach to increase sustainability and productivity in agricultural systems, as the fitness cost of stacking transgenes within individuals may thus be avoided.


biodiversity, Blumeria graminis, Green Revolution, multilines, Pm3a, Pm3b, population level, resistance genes, transgene stacking, Triticum aestivum, yield


Funding source
  • Swiss National Science Foundation
  • National Research Program
Funding country
  • Switzerland
Funding type
  • government

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Cite this study


Zeller, SL, O Kalinina, DF Flynn, B Schmid. "Mixtures of genetically modified wheat lines outperform monocultures." Ecological Applications 22.6 (2012): 1817–1826. Web. 22 Jun. 2024.


Zeller, SL., Kalinina, O., Flynn, DF., & Schmid, B. (2012). Mixtures of genetically modified wheat lines outperform monocultures. Ecological Applications, 22(6), 1817–1826. doi:10.1890/11-0876.1

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