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Establishment of a system based on universal multiplex-PCR for screening genetically modified crops

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The rapid development of many genetically modified (GM) crops in the past two decades makes it necessary to introduce an alternative strategy for routine screening and identification. In this study, we established a universal multiplex PCR detection system which will effectively reduce the number of reactions needed for sample identification. The PCR targets of this system include the six most frequently used transgenic elements: cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter, Agrobacterium tumefaciens nopaline synthase (nos) promoter, Agrobacterium tumefaciens nopaline synthase (nos) terminator, the neomycin phosphotransferase II (nptII) gene, the 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (CP4 epsps) gene of Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain CP4, and the phosphinothricin N-acetyltransferase (pat) gene. According to the AGBIOS database, the coverage of this detection system is 93% of commercial GM crops. This detection system could detect all certified reference materials (CRMs) at the 1.0% level. The correct combination of all the CRM amplicon patterns proved the specificity of this multiplex PCR system. Furthermore, the amplicon patterns of this multiplex PCR detection system could be used as an index of classification which will narrow the range of possible GM products. The simulation result of this multiplex PCR detection system on all commercialized 139 GM products in the AGBIOS database showed that the maximum number of PCR reactions needed to identify an unknown sample can be reduced to 13. In this study, we established a high-throughput multiplex PCR detection system with feasible sensitivity, specificity, and cost. By incorporating this detection system, the routine GM crop-detection process will meet the challenges resulting from a rapid increase in the number of GM crops in the future.

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  1. The latest CRMs used in this study were ERM-BF417d (MON863 × MON810; sample no. 0046) and ERM-BF416d (MON863; sample no. 0133).



Universal primer sequence


Genetically modified


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Correspondence to Tzu-Ming Pan.

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Lu, IJ., Lin, CH. & Pan, TM. Establishment of a system based on universal multiplex-PCR for screening genetically modified crops. Anal Bioanal Chem 396, 2055–2064 (2010).

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