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Trends in Plant Science
Vol. 16, No: 10, 2011, Pages: 532 - 40


Nutritious crops producing multiple carotenoids--a metabolic balancing act

Farré G, Bai C, Twyman RM, Capell T, Christou P, Zhu C

Departament de Producció Vegetal i Ciència Forestal, Universitat de Lleida-CRA, Av. Alcalde Rovira Roure, 191, Lleida 25198, Spain

Abstract

Plants and microbes produce multiple carotenoid pigments with important nutritional roles in animals. By unraveling the basis of carotenoid biosynthesis it has become possible to modulate the key metabolic steps in plants and thus increase the nutritional value of staple crops, such as rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays) and potato (Solanum tuberosum). Multigene engineering has been used to modify three different metabolic pathways simultaneously, producing maize seeds with higher levels of carotenoids, folate and ascorbate. This strategy may allow the development of nutritionally enhanced staples providing adequate amounts of several unrelated nutrients. By focusing on different steps in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway, it is also possible to generate plants with enhanced levels of several nutritionally-beneficial carotenoid molecules simultaneously.

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