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Keywords:

  • Arabidopsis;
  • pleiotropic effects;
  • stress response;
  • substantial equivalence;
  • transgene;
  • transcriptome;
  • microarray analysis

Summary

The ATH1 Arabidopsis GeneChip from Affymetrix was used to search for transcriptome changes in Arabidopsis associated with the strong expression of transgenes regulated by constitutive promoters. The insertion and expression of the commonly used marker genes, uidA and nptII, did not induce changes to the expression patterns of the approximately 24 000 genes that were screened under optimal growth conditions and under physiological stress imposed by low temperatures. Approximately 8000 genes (35% of the Arabidopsis genome) underwent changes in gene expression in both wild-type and transgenic plants under abiotic stresses such as salt, dehydration, cold, and heat. This study provides detailed information on the extent of non-targeted or pleiotropic effects of transgenes on plants and shows that the transgenic and non-transgenic plants were equivalent in their global patterns of transcription. This information may help to extend our understanding and interpretation of the principle of substantial equivalence which is used as a first step in the biosafety evaluation of transgenic crops.