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Linking transcript profiles to metabolites and metabolic pathways: A systems biology approach to transgene risk assessment

Author(s): Kiambi DK | Fortin M | Stromvick M

Journal: Plant Omics
ISSN 1836-0661

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 26;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: biological systems | functional genomics | integrated approach | pleiotropic effects | profiling

In recent years, questions related to molecular composition and its implications for nutrition and health have been raised as advances in technology speed up the introduction of new diversity into breeding programs, either via transgenic technology or by using molecular markers in combination with wide crosses. Metabolite profiling offers great opportunities for characterization of this diversity phenotypically with respect to its metabolite composition. It provides a powerful resource to guide breeding programs and to alert researchers to positive or detrimental traits at an early stage. The power of this approach will be vastly increased by combining it with transcript profiling and a systematic survey of the metabolite composition of the plant products that are already on the market. This integrated approach and holistic profiling within a systems biology approach enables the careful tracking of the response of the organism to conditional perturbations at different molecular and genetic levels using available databases. This approach to profiling will not only provide a baseline for comparison of plants with novel traits (PNTs) with traditional comparators that are ‘generally recognized as safe’, but also provide a rational framework for risk assessment via 'substantial equivalence'. It also provides important inputs into nutritional research and contributes to the public debate about the acceptability of changes in food-production chains and development of science based regulation of plants with novel traits.
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