JAPA (Online) 2017
Vol 45 pg 23-40

A Brief Review of Current Bioinformatics Decision Support System (DSS) Tools for Screening for GMOs in the EU using PCR-Based Approaches

Timothy Wilkesa, Laurie Halla and Malcolm Burnsa,b

a Science and Innovation, LGC Ltd., Teddington
b To whom correspondence should be addressed: malcolm.burns@lgcgroup.com


The development and commercial use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is subject to strict legal regulation in many countries around the world1. Key to the enforcement of legislation is the availability of appropriate methods and analytical approaches to detect, identify and quantify GMOs. To date, GMO screening for enforcement purposes is predominately performed using PCR-based methods for the detection of specific DNA sequences2. A large number of methods have been developed, with many being subject to inter-laboratory validation and made available in the public domain (eg by the EU Reference Laboratory for GM Food and Feed). However, the availability of detection methods in isolation is not sufficient to cope with the increasing number and complexity of GMOs now available. In order to provide for an efficient and comprehensive detection strategy, an informed decision needs to be made on choosing the least number of assays to provide the greatest likelihood of successfully identifying a GMO event.

To address this problem, a number of bioinformatics-based decision support system (DSS) tools and resources have been developed. These often define the relationship between the DNA sequence to be targeted and the GMO identity in matrix or tabular form. Such approaches can be used to identify a GMO based on the minimum number of targets that need to be screened for. The following article briefly describes some of the current bioinformatics-based DSS tools and related resources available for PCR-based approaches for GMO screening, in support of EU labelling legislation enforcement3,4. This review will be of interest to analytical laboratories who wish to augment their GMO screening approaches for EU-authorised varieties and who seek guidance in identifying the most appropriate means to achieve this goal.

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