Workpackage 5: Development And Integration Of Analytical Traceability Tools

Workpackage leader

Kristina Gruden
Dept. of biotechnology and systems biology
National Institute of Biology
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Reliable and efficient methods for GMO detection are essential for establishing an efficient system for traceability as well as for monitoring different aspects of GMO coexistence with conventional and organic crops. In the next few years it is expected that a large expansion of GM crops will occur, both approved for use in EU as well as in other parts of the world. The new EC Regulation 1829/2003 requires that notifiers of new GMOs provide sequence information characterising the GMO, methods to detect and quantify the GMO, and appropriate reference materials, before authorisation may be given. This will substantially facilitate the work of detection labs. On the other hand the mere existence of large numbers of GMOs will increase the costs of traceability to an economically unbearable level. Therefore there is an urgent need for the improvement of existing methods (e.g. real-time PCR) and the investigation of new methods (hyperspectral NIR, loop-mediated amplification, ligase-mediated amplification) for the detection system to become more cost efficient. Suitable and reliable calibrants have to be defined for each method.
The other aspect of GM traceability to be considered in this workpackage is to reduce the cost of quantification. Semiquantitative systems that allow for the separation of samples that are clearly below or above the threshold at the screening level will be established. Accurate quantification of samples with a GM content near the labelling threshold will therefore only be needed in routine samples rarely. The accuracy of these quantifications will be assessed/tackled with thorough statistical means, through different equipment evaluation and by the implementation of a DNA quality control system to make measurement results comparable, increase precision and reduce the incidence of false negative or false positive results. All approaches to increase accuracy will also be evaluated for cost efficiency in parallel. For samples with low amounts of DNA, for which quantification so far was not possible (e.g. different oils, lecithin), new DNA extraction methods will be developed as well as new quantification strategies allowing quantification of a single molecule in the reaction. The work carried out within this workpackage will also consider the needs of coexistence studies. Different systems will be evaluated for the on site detection of adventitious GM crops presence. This will encompass portable real-time PCR devices, portable luminometers and strip type of protein based methods. The work in this WP will focus on GM crops chosen for models within the whole project. Some additional crops might be taken into account where there is a special need for development of detection methods.