Development of a qualitative, multiplex real-time PCR kit for screening of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)


The number of commercially available genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and therefore the diversity of possible target sequences for molecular detection techniques are constantly increasing. As a result, GMO laboratories and the food production industry currently are forced to apply many different methods to reliably test raw material and complex processed food products. Screening methods have become more and more relevant to minimize the analytical effort and to make a preselection for further analysis (e.g., specific identification or quantification of the GMO). A multiplex real-time PCR kit was developed to detect the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus, the terminator of the nopaline synthase gene of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the 35S promoter from the figwort mosaic virus, and the bar gene of the soil bacterium Streptomyces hygroscopicus as the most widely used sequences in GMOs. The kit contains a second assay for the detection of plant-derived DNA to control the quality of the often processed and refined sample material. Additionally, the plant-specific assay comprises a homologous internal amplification control for inhibition control. The determined limits of detection for the five assays were 10 target copies/reaction. No amplification products were observed with DNAs of 26 bacterial species, 25 yeasts, 13 molds, and 41 not genetically modified plants. The specificity of the assays was further demonstrated to be 100% by the specific amplification of DNA derived from reference material from 22 genetically modified crops. The applicability of the kit in routine laboratory use was verified by testing of 50 spiked and unspiked food products. The herein described kit represents a simple and sensitive GMO screening method for the reliable detection of multiple GMO-specific target sequences in a multiplex real-time PCR reaction.

Real-time amplification curves for the event MON810 with 1,000, 100, 10, and 1 target copies/reaction of the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus.

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Correspondence to Hans-Henno Dörries.

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Dörries, H., Remus, I., Grönewald, A. et al. Development of a qualitative, multiplex real-time PCR kit for screening of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Anal Bioanal Chem 396, 2043–2054 (2010).

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  • Genetically modified organisms
  • GMO
  • Real-time PCR
  • Multiplex PCR
  • Screening