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Plant-Related Biosafety Resources

This section of the website is devoted to biological safety topics and resources related to studies involving plants. This information is not intended to place obstacles in the way of conducting studies. Rather, it is intended to assist lab and research personnel with designing procedures in a manner that will reduce the risk of cross-contamination and environmental release.

Please check this page frequently as more information will be added to serve the ongoing needs of the University community. If you have any questions, please contact EHS at 865-974-5084.

UT Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Compliance

Recombinant DNA Molecule Use

Recombinant DNA molecules are defined as “molecules that are constructed outside living cells by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell or molecules that result from the replication of those previously described.”

All research activities (unless classified as exempt based on current NIH Guidelines) that involve the use of recombinant DNA molecules must be registered, reviewed, and approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).

Relative to plant use, studies involving plants in conjunction with recombinant DNA molecules are not likely to be classified as exempt. If studies involve field release of a genetically-modified plant that is not commercially available or not yet deregulated by APHIS, a PPQ or BRS notification or permit will most likely be required.

For further assistance regarding the committee review process, please contact EHS Lab Safety Services at 865-974-5084.

Permits and Transportation Regulations

Biological materials permits and transportation requirements have a broader application to the University environment than you might think.

There are a number of ways that biological materials can be introduced or removed from research facilities. When conducting studies, it is common to exchange research materials with other collaborators. It’s also common for research personnel to visit collaborating institutions to learn new techniques. Faculty and research personnel can join or leave the University, and take materials with them.

Permit requirements are intended to ensure that biological materials that may bear an infectious disease or environmental impact risk are not inadvertently released, and to minimize the potential for clandestine use of such materials.

Transportation regulations apply to biological materials that are moved in commerce that meet the definition of a diagnostic specimen or infectious substance. Specific packaging, paperwork and training are required in some instances.

Please contact the Biosafety Officer for assistance before you send any biological materials by way of a commercial courier (i.e., FedEx, UPS)!

Additional note: Do not attempt to transport undeclared biological materials (or items that resemble these) in your carry-on or checked luggage while flying!

Additional Resources

A Practical Guide to Containment: Greenhouse Research with Transgenic Plants and Microbes (ISB)

This manual is an excellent resource for an explanation of plant biosafety levels and containment principles as they relate to greenhouse operations.

Arthropod Containment Guidelines (ASTMH/ACME)

This document is based on recommendations of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the American Committee of Medical Entomology. It describes arthropod handling practices, safety equipment and facilities for Arthropod Containment Levels 1-4. While the focus of the document is on arthropods of public health significance, plant and animal biologists may also benefit from this resource.

Guidelines for Containment of Nonindigenous Arthropod Herbivores, Parasitoids and Predators (USDA APHIS — PPQ)

This document is intended to provide guidance for design, construction, maintenance and operation of facilities for containment of nonindigenous arthropod herbivores, parasitoids and predators which may be used in biological control research.