April 2024

New in our company - Digital PCR (dPCR)

In industry, on raw material markets, in species protection, in plant breeding and in many other areas, there are questions that cannot be answered with conventional PCR. Until now, the technology of digital PCR (dPCR) was mainly used in the medical sector, but now it is available to us in industry.

By dividing a sample into up to 26,000 partitions, dPCR enables significantly more sensitive analysis than traditional PCR, meaning that detection limits in the range of a single DNA copy can be achieved. Because it is divided into thousands of partitions, the method is also extremely robust against inhibitory effects. In addition to the more sensitive analysis, dPCR also offers a simple, fast and absolute quantification of nucleic acids, which can be carried out without the time-consuming creation of a standard curve.

The possible applications of dPCR are almost unlimited. Examples include studies of varietal purity in plants and seeds, as well as the differentiation of wheat and spelled in the bakery trade. In addition, types of cocoa, tea and coffee can be differentiated very precisely, and olives and other fruits can be distinguished from cheaper varieties. With dPCR, there is no longer anything standing in the way of detecting product fakes. This means that the use of persipan compared to high-quality marzipan in products can be reliably proven. Other examples from the food sector include stretching hazelnut kernel paste with soybean oil, distinguishing genetically close tuna species or Kobe and Wagyu meat. According to “Food Fraud”, dairy products are also among the foods with the highest fraud rates. When it comes to high-quality cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella, feta cheese and Italian ricotta, people cheat by adding the cheaper cow's milk variants.

Other possible areas of application include pathogen detection in food. Examples include plant viruses in potatoes and seeds, as well as bacteria in wine and champagne, which change the taste and thereby contribute to a significant loss of quality. Mold that is harmful to health can also be reliably identified in the environment.

In addition to the food industry, there are also possible applications in the textile industry when it comes to high-quality raw materials such as cashmere or camel hair. But its use in the fishing industry is also conceivable to be able to detect protected species in bycatch.

In the future, dPCR will also offer the possibility of detecting mutations that have been introduced through targeted mutagenesis using genome editing processes such as the “CRISPR/Cas” gene scissors. Point mutations in so-called NGT organisms and plants can be reliably detected.

Please contact us regarding your questions. Appropriate procedures can be validated on a customer basis based on your analysis requirements.



In Europe and the USA, petunias are being withdrawn from the market. They are not a danger, but German authorities have just asked traders and flower enthusiasts to destroy lawn and orange petunias of different varieties and dispose of them professionally. Their striking colors - usually a strong orange - are a product of genetic engineering.

Link to Transgen petunias

August 2017

CRISPR / CAS - state of affairs

The "revolution of genetic engineering" (scientific journal Science: "Breakthrough of the Year 2015") of recent years is still strongly controversial. The editing of genomes becomes much more efficient with the new technology, adapted by bacteria, the possibilities thereby become larger. There was an enormous potential of possibilities for the scientists. However, with increasing potential, the criticism of the new method was also becoming ever greater - CRISPR / CAS polarized. While, on the one hand, interest in the new possibilities prevails, there are more and more critical voices, which denounce the unknown errors of the procedures, the problems of animal welfare, consequences for the biodiversity and the lack of comprehensive regulation.

As early as August 2016, an EU Commission should make an assessment as to when and under what circumstances genetically induced mutations are subject to genetic engineering legislation. This has not happened to this day. Meanwhile, the French government has turned to the ECJ, which now has to examine and evaluate this issue. A ruling in this case is expected in spring 2018.

In the meantime, a study has been published that reports problems with experiments with mice. For example, the number of unwanted mutations in mice treated with CRISPR / CAS was estimated to be in part up to 1500. In addition, complete gene sections were both removed and supplemented.
The publication of this data initially caused an outcry. However, many of the voices fell silent once a former employee of the implementing working group expressed doubts about the scientific usability of the study. Serious scientific errors would have been made; e.g. no untreated control mice were carried as "negative control". It is not clear what causes the unwanted mutations. It is also unclear whether the mice did not carry the mutations in the genome before the experiment.

It remains to be seen how the ECJ will decide next spring - a forecast can not be given.