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Crop Biotech Update

Nanopore Technology Provides GM Plant Molecular Characterization in Just 1 Week

February 10, 2021

Australian scientists tested a method using a new nanopore technology that was developed for molecular characterization of genetically modified (GM) plants. They documented that the process from extracting the DNA to analyzing the results only took a week, rendering their method faster, simpler, and more cost-effective compared to laborious conventional techniques.

The objective of the study was to develop an accurate and fast method for molecular characterization of GM plants with a simple and robust bioinformatic pipeline and strategies that are user-friendly to researchers with limited bioinformatics capabilities. The scientists used the MinION device on three diverse GM events of perennial ryegrass, white clover, and canola. They were successful in determining flanking sequences, copy number, and presence of backbone sequences, overall transgene insertion structure, and even additional identification of moderate-sized secondary insertions that are commonly missed.

To conclude, the methodology tested by the scientists can be used to characterize transgenic events at the molecular level prior to the commercialization or deregulation process, since the proposed workflow can be performed in only a week's time using a single nanopore flowcell per transgenic event. The method can also be used for traceability purposes using a custom database to screen for vectors and common transgenic elements. The scientists claim that this may be the first assessment and full molecular characterization of transgenic plants using only nanopore sequencing.

The details of the study are published by Frontiers in Plant Science.

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