Test methods for monitoring genetically modified microorganisms (GMMs) in nature (NT TR 455)

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  • Report #: NT TR 455
  • Approved: May 2000
  • Author(s): Janet K. Jansson, Søren Molin, Martin Romantschuk
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Genetically modified microorganisms (GMMs) are promising for many environmental and agricultural applications, including bioremediation of toxic chemicals and bio control of plant diseases.

It is important to ensure that when these organisms are released into nature that they do not harm the environment or human health. Therefore, new GMM products are thoroughly assessed for potential risks before they are approved for widespread application.

One important aspect of risk assessment is the actual monitoring of the fate of the GMM in nature (i.e. survival, dispersal, etc.). Specific methods are required to monitor the GMM apart from the natural microorganisms present in the environment. For example, a single gram of soil contains billions of microbial cells comprising thousands of distinct genotypes.

In addition, the monitoring methods should be sensitive to enable low numbers of cells to be counted, since the GMM population could increase in number should the environmental conditions prove more favourable.

Considerable research efforts have been directed towards development of sensitive and specific tools for environmental monitoring of GMMs. In this report we provide our recommendations for test methods that are suitable for monitoring of GMMs in Nordic countries.


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