Genetically modified plants must be approved before release in the European Union, and the approval is generally based upon a comparison of various characteristics between the transgenic plant and a conventional counterpart. As a case study, focusing on safety assessment of genetically modified plants, we here report the development and characterisation of six independently transformed Arabidopsis thaliana lines modified in the flavonoid biosynthesis. Analyses of integration events and comparative analysis for characterisation of the intended effects were performed by PCR, quantitative Real-time PCR, and High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Analysis by cDNA microarray was used as a non-targeted approach for the identification of potential unintended effects caused by the transformation. The results revealed that, although the transgenic lines possessed different types of integration events, no unintended effects were identified. However, we found that the majority of genes showing differential expression were identified as stress-related genes and that environmental conditions had a large impact on the expression of several genes, proteins, and metabolites. We suggest that the microarray approach has the potential to become a useful tool for screening of unintended effects, but state that it is crucial to have substantial information on the natural variation in traditional crops in order to be able to interpret "ornics" data correctly within the framework of food safety assessment strategies of novel plant varieties, including genetically modified plant varieties.
- gene insertion studies
- intended and unintended effects
- gene expression
- transgenic crops
- safety assessment