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Charles Xu

Student Speaker | Étudiant.e
Montreal, Quebec
With rapidly growing accessibility of genome-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9, the prevalence and diversity of genetically modified (GM) animals is expected to increase dramatically. Plans to release such GM animals into the wild have already been implemented around the world and is only expected to increase in the future. Potential ‘transgenic leakage’ via the deposition of DNA from GM animals into the environment through natural processes (e.g. fecal deposition, skin cell shedding, decomposition, etc.) could be problematic if transgenic elements are subsequently incorporated into unintended populations or species. We demonstrate that transgenes of GM animals are detectable in DNA collected from a variety of extra-organismal and environmental sources in both invertebrate and vertebrate systems. We detected transgene fragments between 82-234 bp through PCR amplification of environmental DNA (eDNA) from GM fruit flies in food media, GM mice in feces, urine, and saliva, and GM skirted tetras in aquarium water. Environmental DNA methods have the potential to provide sensitive, accurate, non-invasive, and cost-effective detection and monitoring of GM animals and specific transgenic elements.