The production of transgenic plants involves the insertion of foreign genes or genetic material that has been manipulated into plant cells followed by regeneration process for the production of a complete plant. Transgenic technology has been identified as one of the key technologies for the future. This includes in aspects of crop management, overcoming disease and abiotic stresses as well as production of a variety of high-value products such as vaccines and bioplastics. Transgenic plant is also the best system to test the functionality of a gene before being applied in any genetic improvement efforts.
However, contamination of wild plants and crops with transgenes from transgenic plants is of great concern before extensive studies on the impact on the species involved and also on other species in the environment are made. Hence, the use of facilities that meet international standards of biosafety level II is enforced by Malaysian Government. This facility will separate the transgenic plants from other plants and is effective in preventing the transfer of the transgene specifically from pollens and seeds to other plants in the environment.
The construction of UPM’s Transgenic Greenhouse took about 40 weeks costing RM 5 million using the Research University budget. The Transgenic Greenhouse is a fully equipped facility that meets the international specifications for biosafety level II. The greenhouse area of 252 m2 has a cultivation room at ambient temperature with a wall made of stainless steel wire mesh size 32 mesh. There are also two fully enclosed cultivation rooms where the wall is made of polycarbonate. Temperature and humidity control in the room surrounded by stainless steel wire mesh is using fogging system and fan. Whereas in the fully enclosed rooms, the temperature and humidity control is using air conditioning system and humidifier. Temperature and humidity sensors also allow for automated control to ensure that they are in the specified range. On the roof there is a heat shield that can automatically regulate the entry of light.
The plants are watered using a drip system. All drainage can be collected and decontaminated using a central chlorination system. This facility also has an autoclave and an electric generator. It is also equipped with a preparation room, a management office and a meeting room.