Assessing the potential for unintended effects in genetically modified potatoes perturbed in metabolic and developmental processes. Targeted analysis of key nutrients and anti-nutrients

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Abstract

Targeted compositional analysis was carried out on transgenic potato tubers of either cultivar (cv.) Record or cv. Desirée to assess the potential for unintended effects caused by the genetic modification process. The range of transgenic lines analysed included those modified in primary carbohydrate metabolism, polyamine biosynthesis and glycoprotein processing. Controls included wildtype tubers, tubers produced from plants regenerated through tissue culture (including a callus phase) and tubers derived from transformation with the ‘empty vector’ i.e. no specific target gene included (with the exception of the kanamycin resistance gene as a selectable marker). Metabolite analysis included soluble carbohydrates, glycoalkaloids, vitamin C, total nitrogen and fatty acids. Trypsin inhibitor activity was also assayed. These cover the major compounds recommended by the OECD in their Consensus Document on Compositional Considerations for New Varieties of Potatoes: Key Food and Feed Nutrients, Anti-Nutrients and Toxicants (2002). Data was statistically analysed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) for individual compounds and, where applicable, principal component analysis (PCA). In general, targeted compositional analysis revealed no consistent differences between GM lines and respective controls. No construct specifically induced unintended effects. Statistically significant differences between wildtype controls and specific GM lines did occur but appeared to be random and not associated with any specific construct. Indeed such significant differences were also found between wildtypes and both tissue culture derived tubers and tubers derived from transformation with the empty vector. This raises the possibility that somaclonal variation (known to occur significantly in potato, depending on genotype) may be responsible for an unknown proportion of any differences observed between specific GM lines and the wildtype. The most obvious differences seen in GC-MS profiles were between the two potato varieties used in the study.

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