Press Release
Free access
Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 29, Number 4, October-December 2009
Page(s) 497 - 501
Published online 09 July 2009
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 29 (2009) 497-501
DOI: 10.1051/agro/2009020

Detection of transgenic cp4 epsps genes in the soil food web

Miranda M. Hart1, Jeff R. Powell1, Robert H. Gulden2, David J. Levy-Booth3, Kari E. Dunfield4, K. Peter Pauls2, Clarence J. Swanton2, John N. Klironomos1 and Jack T. Trevors3

1  Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada
2  Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada
3  Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada
4  Department of Land Resource Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada

Accepted 12 May 2009; published online 9 July 2009

Abstract - The persistence and movement of transgenic DNA in agricultural and natural systems is largely unknown. This movement poses a threat of horizontal gene transfer and possible proliferation of genetically modified DNA into the general environment. To assess the persistence of transgenic DNA in a field of Roundup Ready $^{\circledR}$ corn, we quantified the presence of the transgene for glyphosate tolerance within a soil food web. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we identified the cp4 epsps transgene in bulk soil microarthropods, nematodes, macroarthropods and earthworms sampled within the corn cropping system. We found evidence of the transgene at all dates and in all animal groups. Transgenic DNA concentration in animal was significantly higher than that of background soil, suggesting the animals were feeding directly on transgenic plant material. It remains to be tested whether this DNA was still within the plant residues, present as free, extracellular DNA or had already undergone genetic transformation into competent bacterial cells. These results are the first to demonstrate the persistence of transgenic crop DNA residues within a food web.

Key words: agriculture / DNA / environment / corn / foodweb / glyphosate / soil / transgenic

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2009