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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Special Topics

Fate of transgenic deoxyribonucleic acid fragments in digesta and tissues of rabbits fed genetically modified soybean meal1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 94 No. 3, p. 1287-1295
    Received: Oct 26, 2015
    Accepted: Dec 27, 2015
    Published: February 19, 2016

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. P. Moreraa,
  2. L. Basiricòa,
  3. B. Ronchia and
  4. U. Bernabucci 2a
  1. a Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Via S. Camillo De Lellis, s.n.c., 01100 Viterbo, Italy


Numerous animal feeding studies have investigated the presence of DNA from transgenic plants in tissues from different animal species, but the data reported are sometimes controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of transgenic DNA (tDNA) in the digesta and tissues of a meat rabbit breed fed genetically modified (GM) soybean meal. Fifteen male New Zealand White rabbits were used for the experimental trial. Ten rabbits (treated group [TG]) were fed a mixed feed containing 10% GM soybean meal and 5 rabbits (control group [CG]) received a mixed feed containing conventional soybean meal, both from weaning (28 d of age) to slaughter (80 ± 3 d). Samples of blood, liver, kidney, heart, stomach, intestine (jejunum), lateral quadricep muscle, longissimus muscle, and perirenal adipose tissue were collected to assess the possible DNA transfer from GM feed to animal tissues. Samples of stomach contents and feces were also taken to study the degradability of ingested tDNA from feed in the digestive tract of rabbit. Moreover, samples of hair were collected to determine the possible environmental contamination from feed powders present on the farm. The DNA extraction was performed using specific genomic DNA kits. All samples were monitored, by using real-time PCR, for oligonucleotide primers and probes specific for the transgenic Roundup Ready soybean 40-3-2 and for the endogenous lectin (LE1) gene. As an internal control of rabbit tissues, the presence of the β-actin (ACTB) gene was used. In this study, no fragments of tDNA were detectable in tissue DNA samples of rabbits except in the extracted DNA from stomach digesta, feces, and hair of rabbits fed with GM soybean. Similar results were found for the reference LE1 gene, whereas the presence of the ACTB gene was detected in all rabbit tissues. The lack of tDNA of soybean in rabbit tissues represents an important result, which demonstrates that meat from rabbits fed a diet containing GM feed is as that derived from rabbits fed conventional crops. The recombinant DNA recovered in the stomach digesta and in feces indicates an incomplete digestion of the soybean DNA in the gastrointestinal tract of the rabbit, whereas the presence of trace soybean transgene in the hair of the TG rabbits is suggestive of an environmental contamination.

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