A high throughput proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy method for the metabolite fingerprinting of plants was applied to genetically modified peas (Pisum sativum) to determine whether biochemical changes, so called 'unintended effects', beyond those intended by incorporation of a transgene, were detectable. Multivariate analysis of 1H NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectra obtained from uniformly grown glasshouse plants revealed differences between the transgenic and control group that exceeded the natural variation of the plants. When a larger data set of six related transgenic lines was analysed, including a null segregant in addition to the wild-type control, multivariate analysis showed that the distribution of metabolites in the transgenics was different from that of the null segregant. However, the profile obtained from the wild-type material was diverse in comparison with both the transgenics and the null segregant, suggesting that the primary cause of the observed differences was that the transformation process selects for a subset of individuals able to undergo the transformation and selection procedures, and that their descendants have a restricted variation in metabolite profile, rather than that the presence of the transgene itself generates these differences.
Field of Research
060499 Genetics not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
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