A statistical approach for evaluation of PCR results to improve the practical limit of quantification (LOQ) of GMO analyses (SIMQUANT)
The predominant approach for quantification of genetically modified organisms (GMO) is the application of quantitative real-time PCR. However, for a large number of processed food and feed products, this approach is unsuitable, because they contain low amounts (mass) of amplifiable DNA. Here we present a novel approach, ‘‘Single molecule quantification’’ (SIMQUANT) for GMO quantification of samples with extremely low amounts of DNA. The approach is based on statistics and application of multiple qualitative parallel PCRs. Here the qualitative PCRs were done using real-time PCR setup, but this is not a requirement. The difference is that the quantitative real-time PCR requires that the target copy number exceeds the absolute limit of quantification (LOQabs) and provides quantity estimates by extrapolation from a linear regressional relationship between an observed cycle threshold (Ct) value and copy numbers, while with SIMQUANT the template DNA typically contains very few, e.g., one target copy per PCR volume and the quantity is estimated on the basis of observed ratio between positive and negative individual PCRs. The components of this analysis are the numbers of test samples, the size of each sample and the outcome in number and relative ratio of positive and negative test results. The approach results in a statistical estimate of the relative GM concentration based on the probability that one or more amplifiable GM template copies are present in discrete volumes. Thus, the approach is based on the ratio of discrete volumes without or with one or more PCR-amplifiable GM target copies. The approach described here can be used reliably with more than a 100-fold improvement of the practical LOQ (LOQpract) compared to real-time quantitative PCR based on standard curves.
Berdal KG, Boydler C, Tengs T, Holst-Jensen A. A statistical approach for evaluation of PCR results to improve the practical limit of quantification (LOQ) of GMO analyses (SIMQUANT). European Food and Research Technology 2008 227(4):1149–1157.