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    Obtaining data on transgene copy number is an integral step in the generation of transgenic plants. Techniques such as Southern blot, segregation analysis, and quantitative PCR (qPCR) have routinely been used for this task, in a range of species. More recently, use of Digital PCR (dPCR) has become prevalent, with a measurement accuracy higher than qPCR reported. Here, the relative merits of qPCR and dPCR for transgene copy number estimation in white clover were investigated. Furthermore, given that single copy reference genes are desirable for estimating gene copy number by relative quantification, and that no single-copy genes have been reported in this species, a search and evaluation of suitable reference genes in white clover was undertaken. Results demonstrated a higher accuracy of dPCR relative to qPCR for copy number estimation in white clover. Two genes, Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), and an ATP-dependent protease, identified as single-copy genes, were used as references for copy number estimation by relative quantification. Identification of single-copy genes in white clover will enable the application of relative quantification for copy number estimation of other genes or transgenes in the species. The results generated here validate the use of dPCR as a reliable strategy for transgene copy number estimation in white clover, and provide resources for future copy number studies in this species.


    Rafael Narancio, Ulrik John, John Mason, Paula Giraldo, German Spangenberg. Digital PCR (dPCR) and qPCR mediated determination of transgene copy number in the forage legume white clover (Trifolium repens). Molecular biology reports. 2021 Apr;48(4):3069-3077

    PMID: 33864179

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