Advances in molecular techniques for the detection and quantification of genetically modified organisms
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Progress in genetic engineering has led to the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) whose genomes have been altered by the integration of a novel sequence conferring a new trait. To allow consumers an informed choice, many countries require food products to be labeled if the GMO content exceeds a certain threshold. Consequently, the development of analytical methods for GMO screening and quantification is of great interest. Exponential amplification by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) remains a central step in molecular methods of GMO detection and quantification. In order to meet the challenge posed by the continuously increasing number of GMOs, various multiplex assays have been developed for the simultaneous amplification and/or detection of several GMOs. Classical agarose gel electrophoresis is being replaced by capillary electrophoresis (CE) systems, including CE chips, for the rapid and automatable separation of amplified fragments. Microtiter well-based hybridization assays allow high-throughput analysis of many samples in a single plate. Microarrays have been introduced in GMO screening as a technique for the simultaneous multianalyte detection of amplified sequences. Various types of biosensors, including surface plasmon resonance sensors, quartz crystal microbalance piezoelectric sensors, thin-film optical sensors, dry-reagent dipstick-type sensors and electrochemical sensors were introduced in GMO screening because they offer simplicity and lower cost. GMO quantification is performed by real-time PCR (rt-QPCR) and competitive PCR. New endogenous reference genes have been validated. rt-QPCR is the most widely used approach. Multiplexing is another trend in this field. Strategies for high-throughput multiplex competitive quantitative PCR have been reported.