Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

On The Trail Of Rogue Genetically Modified Pathogens

Date:
March 18, 2008
Source:
BioMed Central/Genome Biology
Summary:
Bacteria can be used to engineer genetic modifications, thereby providing scientists with a tool to combat many challenges in areas from food production to drug discovery. However, this sophisticated technology can also be used maliciously, raising the threat of engineered pathogens. New research in Genome Biology shows that computational tools could become a vital resource for detecting rogue genetically engineered bacteria in environmental samples.

New computational tools could become a vital resource for detecting rogue genetically engineered bacteria in environmental samples.
Credit: iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki

Bacteria can be used to engineer genetic modifications, thereby providing scientists with a tool to combat many challenges in areas from food production to drug discovery. However, this sophisticated technology can also be used maliciously, raising the threat of engineered pathogens. New research shows that computational tools could become a vital resource for detecting rogue genetically engineered bacteria in environmental samples.

Jonathan Allen, Shea Gardner and Tom Slezak of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, US, designed new computational tools that identify a set of DNA markers that can distinguish between artificial vector sequences and natural DNA sequences. Natural plasmids and artificial vector sequences have much in common, but these new tools show the potential to achieve high sensitivity and specificity, even when detecting previously unsequenced vectors in microarray-based bioassays.

A new computational genomics tool was developed to compare all available sequenced artificial vectors with available natural sequences, including plasmids and chromosomes, from bacteria and viruses. The tool clusters the artificial vector sequences into different subgroups based on shared sequence; these shared sequences were then compared with the natural plasmid and chromosomal sequence information so as to find regions that are unique to the artificial vectors.

Nearly all the artificial vector sequences had one or more unique regions. Short stretches of these unique regions are termed 'candidate DNA signatures' and can be used as probes for detecting an artificial vector sequence in the presence of natural sequences using a microarray. Further tests showed that subgroups of candidate DNA signatures are far more likely to match unseen artificial than natural sequences.

The authors say that the next step is to see whether a bioassay design using DNA signatures on microarrays can spot genetically modified DNA in a sample containing a mixture of natural and modified bacteria. The scientific community will need to cooperate with computational experts to sequence and track available vector sequences if DNA signatures are to be used successfully to support detection and deterrence against malicious genetic engineering applications. Scientists would be able to maintain an expanding database of DNA signatures to track all sequenced vectors.

"As with any attempt to counter malicious use of technology, detecting genetic engineering in microbes will be an immense challenge that requires many different tools and continual effort," says Allen.

Journal reference: Jonathan E Allen, Shea N Gardner and Tom R Slezak. DNA signatures for detecting genetic engineering in bacteria. Genome Biology (in press)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central/Genome Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BioMed Central/Genome Biology. "On The Trail Of Rogue Genetically Modified Pathogens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317191441.htm>.
BioMed Central/Genome Biology. (2008, March 18). On The Trail Of Rogue Genetically Modified Pathogens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317191441.htm
BioMed Central/Genome Biology. "On The Trail Of Rogue Genetically Modified Pathogens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317191441.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Super Healthful Fruits and Vegetables: Which Are Best?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) We all know that it is important to eat our fruits and vegetables but do you know which ones are the best for you? Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bad Memories Turn Good In Weird Mouse Brain Study

Bad Memories Turn Good In Weird Mouse Brain Study

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) MIT researchers were able to change whether bad memories in mice made them anxious by flicking an emotional switch in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Couples Who Smoke Weed Together Stay Together?

Do Couples Who Smoke Weed Together Stay Together?

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) A study out of University at Buffalo claims couples who smoke marijuana are less likely to experience intimate partner violence. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Panda Might Have Faked Pregnancy To Get Special Treatment

Panda Might Have Faked Pregnancy To Get Special Treatment

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) A panda in China showed pregnancy symptoms that disappeared after two months of observation. One theory: Her pseudopregnancy was a ploy for perks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins