ALF: a strategy for identification of unauthorized GMOs in complex mixtures by a GW-NGS method and dedicated bioinformatics analysis

Košir, Alexandra Bogožalec; Arulandhu, Alfred J.; Voorhuijzen, Marleen M.; Xiao, Hongmei; Hagelaar, Rico; Staats, Martijn; Costessi, Adalberto; Žel, Jana; Kok, Esther J.; Dijk, Jeroen van


The majority of feed products in industrialised countries contains materials derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In parallel, the number of reports of unauthorised GMOs (UGMOs) is gradually increasing. There is a lack of specific detection methods for UGMOs, due to the absence of detailed sequence information and reference materials. In this research, an adapted genome walking approach was developed, called ALF: Amplification of Linearly-enriched Fragments. Coupling of ALF to NGS aims for simultaneous detection and identification of all GMOs, including UGMOs, in one sample, in a single analysis. The ALF approach was assessed on a mixture made of DNA extracts from four reference materials, in an uneven distribution, mimicking a real life situation. The complete insert and genomic flanking regions were known for three of the included GMO events, while for MON15985 only partial sequence information was available. Combined with a known organisation of elements, this GMO served as a model for a UGMO. We successfully identified sequences matching with this organisation of elements serving as proof of principle for ALF as new UGMO detection strategy. Additionally, this study provides a first outline of an automated, web-based analysis pipeline for identification of UGMOs containing known GM elements.