Challenges in Detection of Genetically Modified Organisms

Mojca Milavec, David Dobnik, Jana Žel
National Institute of Biology, Slovenia

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms in which the genetic material has been altered through the application of gene technology in a way that does not occur naturally through mating and/or natural recombination. There are considerable differences between countries in the adoption of this technology therefore labelling requirements have been set-up in many countries to facilitate international trade and to provide information to consumers. At present, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is the most commonly accepted and used method for detection, identification and quantification of GMOs and considerable efforts have been invested in the understanding and critical evaluation of this technology. Nevertheless, there are challenges that should still be highlighted, such as inhibitors commonly present in different matrices, possible sequence mismatches, characteristics of taxon-specific genes and the quality of the reference materials, as these remain potential sources of measurement uncertainty. In addition, with steadily increasing number of GMOs developed and approved worldwide, the present qPCR methodology may no longer be fully suited to purpose. Several multiplex qPCR methods has already been developed and new approaches, such as digital PCR (dPCR), are being investigated.

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