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TWN Biotechnology & Biosafety Series no. 13

Unintended Horizontal Transfer of Recombinant DNA

By Kaare M Nielsen and Daniele Daffonchio

Publisher: TWN (ISBN: 978-967-5412-34-9)

Year: 2010   No. of pages: 40

ABOUT THE BOOK

Heritable material (DNA) is usually recombined and transferred to the progeny by sexual reproduction. This process is called vertical gene transfer and an example is pollen flow between the same or related plant species. DNA can, however, also more infrequently spread to unrelated species through a process called horizontal gene transfer (HGT). HGT occurs independently of normal sexual reproduction and is more common among single-celled organisms such as bacteria. Examples of HGT are the spread of antibiotic resistance among bacterial species, gene therapy in humans, and Agrobacterium-infection in plants.

HGT of recombinant DNA from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to bacteria is a potential biosafety concern. In this paper, the authors introduce the main biosafety aspects of unintended HGT processes as they relate to the use of recombinant DNA.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

PROFESSOR KAARE M NIELSEN is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology at the Department of Pharmacy, the University of Tromsø, Norway. Nielsen holds a PhD in Biology from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and has completed postdoctoral studies in Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA. Nielsen is an adviser to GenØk-Centre for Biosafety. His research group focuses on understanding the molecular mechanism behind, and the ecological effects and evolutionary impacts of, horizontal transfer of genes into various organisms.

PROFESSOR DANIELE DAFFONCHIO is an Associate Professor of Microbiology at the Department of Food Science and Microbiology, University of Milan, Italy. Daffonchio holds a PhD in Chemistry, Biochemistry and Ecology of Pesticides from the University of Milan, and has completed postdoctoral

studies in Belgium (University of Gent). A primary scientific interest of Daffonchio concerns understanding mechanisms regulating the reciprocal interaction between microorganisms and the environment in which they live, and how horizontal gene transfer is implicated in shaping this relationship.

Contents

1.      INTRODUCTION                                                                 

2.            INTRODUCTION TO SOME BIOSAFETY ASPECTS OF RECOMBINANT DNA            

3.      RECOMBINANT DNA INTRODUCTION AND POTENTIAL IMPACT IN VARIOUS ENVIRONMENTS

         3.1        Human exposure to foreign DNA

         3.11      DNA in food

         3.1.2     DNA stability in the digestive tract

4.            HGT OF RECOMBINANT DNA TO EUKARYOTIC CELLS (E.G. HUMAN CELLS)

5.            HGT OF RECOMBINANT DNA TO PROKARYOTIC CELLS (E.G. BACTERIAL CELLS)

6.            CONCLUDING REMARKS

ENDNOTES

SUGGESTED READING

REFERENCES

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