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J Exp Bot. 2006;57(11):2613-25. Epub 2006 Jul 10.

A metabonomic study of transgenic maize (Zea mays) seeds revealed variations in osmolytes and branched amino acids.

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Dipartimento di Chimica, Università degli studi di Roma La Sapienza, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, I-00185 Roma, Italy and Istituto Sperimentale per la Cerealicoltura, Sez. Bergamo, Via Stezzano 24, I-24126 Bergamo, Italy.


The aim of the research was to investigate metabolic variations associated with genetic modifications in the grains of Zea mays using metabonomic techniques. With this in mind, the non-targeted characteristic of the technique is useful to identify metabolites peculiar to the genetic modification and initially undefined. The results obtained showed that the genetic modification, introducing Cry1Ab gene expression, induces metabolic variations involving the primary nitrogen pathway. Concerning the methodological aspects, the experimental protocol used has been applied in this field for the first time. It consists of a combination of partial least square-discriminant analysis and principal component analysis. The most important metabolites for discrimination were selected and the metabolic correlations linking them are identified. Principal component analysis on selected signals confirms metabolic variations, highlighting important details about the changes induced on the metabolic network by the presence of a Bt transgene in the maize genome.

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