Establishing substantial equivalence: transcriptomics

Methods Mol Biol. 2009;478:247-72. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59745-379-0_15.


Regulatory authorities in Western Europe require transgenic crops to be substantially equivalent to conventionally bred forms if they are to be approved for commercial production. One way to establish substantial equivalence is to compare the transcript profiles of developing grain and other tissues of transgenic and conventionally bred lines, in order to identify any unintended effects of the transformation process. We present detailed protocols for transcriptomic comparisons of developing wheat grain and leaf material, and illustrate their use by reference to our own studies of lines transformed to express additional gluten protein genes controlled by their own endosperm-specific promoters. The results show that the transgenes present in these lines (which included those encoding marker genes) did not have any significant unpredicted effects on the expression of endogenous genes and that the transgenic plants were therefore substantially equivalent to the corresponding parental lines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant / genetics
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / isolation & purification
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Triticum / genetics


  • DNA, Complementary
  • RNA, Plant