Nematode 18S rRNA gene is a reliable tool for environmental biosafety assessment of transgenic banana in confined field trials
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Abstract Information on relatedness in nematodes is commonly obtained by DNA sequencing of the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region. How- ever, the level of diversity at this locus is often insufficient for reliable species differentiation. Recent findings suggest that the sequences of a fragment of the small subunit nuclear ribosomal DNA (18S rRNA or SSU), identify genera of soil nematodes and can also distinguish between species in some cases. A database of soil nematode genera in a Ugandan soil was developed using 18S rRNA sequences of individual nematodes from a GM banana confined field trial site at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories, Kawanda in Uganda. The trial was planted to evaluate transgenic bananas for resistance to black Sigatoka disease. Search for relatedness of the sequences gained with entries in a public genomic database identified a range of 20 different genera and sometimes distinguished species. Molecular markers were designed from the sequence information to underpin nematode faunal analysis. This approach provides bio-indicators for disturbance of the soil environment and the condition of the soil food web. It is being developed to support environmental bio safety analysis by detecting any perturbance by transgenic banana or other GM crops on the soil environment.