In addition to classical targeted biochemical analyses, metabolomic analyses seem pertinent to reveal expected as well as unexpected compositional differences between plant genetically modified organisms (GMO) and non-GMO samples. Data previously published in the existing literature led to divergent conclusions on the effect of maize transgenes on grain compositional changes and feeding effects. Therefore, a new study examining field-grown harvested products and feeds derived from them remains useful.
Our aim was to use a metabolomics approach to characterize grain and grain-based diet compositional changes for two GMO events, one involving Bacillus thuringiensis toxin to provide insect resistance and the other one conferring herbicide tolerance by detoxification of glyphosate. We also investigated the potential compositional modifications induced by the use of a glyphosate-based herbicide on the transgenic line conferring glyphosate tolerance.
The majority of statistically significant differences in grain composition, evidenced by the use of 1H-NMR profiling of polar extracts and LC-ESI-QTOF-MS profiling of semi-polar extracts, could be attributed to the combined effect of genotype and environment. In comparison, transgene and glyphosate effects remained limited in grain for the compound families studied. Some but not all compositional changes observed in grain were also detected in grain-based diets formulated for rats.
Only part of the data previously published in the existing literature on maize grains of plants with the same GMO events could be reproduced in our experiment. All spectra have been deposited in a repository freely accessible to the public. Our grain and diet characterization opened the way for an in depth study of the effects of these diets on rat health.
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Liquid chromatography electrospray-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry
Nuclear magnetic resonance
Principal component analysis
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We thank Drs Pablo Steinberg, Ralf Wilhelm and Joachim Schiemann (G-TwYST, EC project) for having shared the maize production and preliminary targeted analyses of the grains, and Dr Maria Pla (IRTA Mas Badia Field Station) and the farmers involved in maize culture, harvest and drying for providing the grain samples cultivated in Spain. We are grateful to the members of the scientific council of RiskOGM program for their follow-up and advice.
We thank the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition (RiskOGM program) for the financial support of the GMO90+ research project, and MetaboHUB (ANR-11-INBS-0010) and PHENOME (ANR-11-INBS-0012) projects for financing.
Conflict of interest
Conflicts of interest of the principal investigators are declared on the public RiskOGM programme website (http://recherche-riskogm.fr/en/page/partners-pdis).
The GMO plant samples followed dedicated laboratory procedures concerning their identification and destruction. Although this article is related to a project involving animals (Study approved by French Ethical Committee CETEA), it does not contain any study with animals performed by any of the authors.
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Bernillon, S., Maucourt, M., Deborde, C. et al. Characterization of GMO or glyphosate effects on the composition of maize grain and maize-based diet for rat feeding. Metabolomics 14, 36 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11306-018-1329-9
- Rat diet