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GMOseek: a user friendly tool for optimized GMO testing

Dany Morisset14*, Petra Kralj Novak2, Darko Zupanič5, Kristina Gruden1, Nada Lavrač23 and Jana Žel1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biotechnology and Systems Biology, National Institute of Biology, Večna pot 111, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

2 Department of Knowledge Technologies, Jožef Stefan Institute, Jamova cesta 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

3 University of Nova Gorica, Vipavska 13, 5000 Nova Gorica, Slovenia

4 Current address: CropDesign N.V., GBB/RY - BIO 2, Technologiepark 21C, 9052 Gent (Zwijnaarde), Belgium

5 DA-MA s.p., Doropolje 14A, 3225 Planina pri Sevnici, Slovenia

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BMC Bioinformatics 2014, 15:258  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-15-258

Published: 1 August 2014



With the increasing pace of new Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) authorized or in pipeline for commercialization worldwide, the task of the laboratories in charge to test the compliance of food, feed or seed samples with their relevant regulations became difficult and costly. Many of them have already adopted the so called "matrix approach" to rationalize the resources and efforts used to increase their efficiency within a limited budget. Most of the time, the "matrix approach" is implemented using limited information and some proprietary (if any) computational tool to efficiently use the available data.


The developed GMOseek software is designed to support decision making in all the phases of routine GMO laboratory testing, including the interpretation of wet-lab results. The tool makes use of a tabulated matrix of GM events and their genetic elements, of the laboratory analysis history and the available information about the sample at hand. The tool uses an optimization approach to suggest the most suited screening assays for the given sample. The practical GMOseek user interface allows the user to customize the search for a cost-efficient combination of screening assays to be employed on a given sample. It further guides the user to select appropriate analyses to determine the presence of individual GM events in the analyzed sample, and it helps taking a final decision regarding the GMO composition in the sample. GMOseek can also be used to evaluate new, previously unused GMO screening targets and to estimate the profitability of developing new GMO screening methods.


The presented freely available software tool offers the GMO testing laboratories the possibility to select combinations of assays (e.g. quantitative real-time PCR tests) needed for their task, by allowing the expert to express his/her preferences in terms of multiplexing and cost. The utility of GMOseek is exemplified by analyzing selected food, feed and seed samples from a national reference laboratory for GMO testing and by comparing its performance to existing tools which use the matrix approach. GMOseek proves superior when tested on real samples in terms of GMO coverage and cost efficiency of its screening strategies, including its capacity of simple interpretation of the testing results.

Genetically Modified Organism; Matrix approach; Constraint optimization; Cost efficient GMO testing