Food Analytical Methods

, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 2396–2406 | Cite as

Detection of Transgenic Atlantic and Coho Salmon by Real-time PCR

  • Frédéric Debode
  • Eric Janssen
  • Aline Marien
  • Robert H. Devlin
  • Kathrin Lieske
  • Joachim Mankertz
  • Gilbert Berben


Genetic modifications (GM) have been applied to salmon to generate fast-growing strains for potential use in aquaculture. In November 2015, the first transgenic salmon (AquAdvantage® Atlantic salmon) was accepted for commercialization in the USA under defined conditions. The presence of GM food products in the marketplace stimulates the need for detection methods to allow screening for the presence of genetic modifications in seafood products. This paper first shows that it is possible to obtain amplifiable DNA from raw and processed products containing salmon. Detection methods by real-time PCR are proposed in this work. An endogenous gene target was designed to detect salmonid species DNA in samples. In addition, detection methods using real-time PCR were developed for two GM salmon possessing growth hormone transgenes: the AquAdvantage® Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) developed by AquaBounty for commercial purposes, and the coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) developed for research purposes by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The methods are able to detect at least 20 copies of the target. It was found however that one of the construct-specific methods for the AquAdvantage® salmon detection did not work on AquAdvantage® genomic DNA even though it works on the sequence published in GenBank. The other assay however was found to reliably detect AquAdvantage® transgenic sequences in genomic DNA.


Salmon Transgenic Detection AquAdvantage Real-time PCR 



This research was conducted within a Belgian research project (Convention RF 11/6242 UGMMONITOR) financed by the Belgian Federal Public Service for Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment. We also thank Cécile Ancion, Denis Roulez, and Gaëlle Antoine from the GMO team of CRA-W.

Compliance with Ethic Requirements

Conflict of Interest

Frédéric Debode declares that he has no conflict of interest. Eric Janssen declares that he has no conflict of interest. Aline Marien declares that she has no conflict of interest. Robert H. Devlin declares that he has no conflict of interest. Kathrin Lieske declares that she has no conflict of interest. Joachim Mankertz declares that he has no conflict of interest. Gilbert Berben declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain studies with human or animal subjects. Samples used are food samples.

Supplementary material

12161_2018_1214_MOESM1_ESM.docx (298 kb)
Figure S1 Placement of the primers and probes for salmon detection on the sequence of different salmonid species available in the NCBI database (Accession numbers of the sequences are given after the name). A. target proposed by Li et al. 2013 B. Target proposed in this study C. Target proposed by Ben Hafsa et al. 2016. (DOCX 298 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frédéric Debode
    • 1
  • Eric Janssen
    • 1
  • Aline Marien
    • 1
  • Robert H. Devlin
    • 2
  • Kathrin Lieske
    • 3
  • Joachim Mankertz
    • 3
  • Gilbert Berben
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit Traceability and Authentication, Department Valorisation of Agricultural ProductsWalloon Agricultural Research Center (CRA-W)GemblouxBelgium
  2. 2.Fisheries and Oceans CanadaWest VancouverCanada
  3. 3.Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL)BerlinGermany

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