Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Link between vitamin C and twins can increase seed production in crops

Discovery can assist farming of low-fertility crops, say UC Riverside biochemists

Biochemists at the University of California, Riverside report a new role for vitamin C in plants: promoting the production of twins and even triplets in plant seeds.

A boost of vitamin C results in the production of twin seedlings of tobacco. Credit: Gallie Lab, UC Riverside

Daniel R. Gallie, a professor of biochemistry, and Zhong Chen, an associate research biochemist in the Department of Biochemistry, found that increasing the level of dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR), a naturally occurring enzyme that recycles vitamin C in plants and animals, increases the level of the vitamin and results in the production of twin and triplet seedlings in a single seed.

The value of the discovery lies in the potential to produce genetically identical seedlings and increase production of high-value crops.

"The ability to increase fertility can be extremely useful when the inherent rate of fertility is low or the value of the crop is great, such as corn in which the production of multiple embryos would significantly boost its protein content," Gallie said. "The extra seedlings per seed may also enhance per-seed survival chances for some species."

Study results appear in the online international journal PLoS ONE.

Just as in humans, twins in plants can be either genetically identical or fraternal. Gallie and Chen discovered that the twins and triplets produced in tobacco plants when vitamin C was increased were true twins or triplets as they were genetically identical.

In the lab, the researchers went on to show that injecting plant ovaries with vitamin C was sufficient to produce twins or triplets and that the vitamin causes the zygote, the fertilized egg, to divide into two or even three fertilized egg cells before these cells proceed through subsequent stages of development to produce twins or triplets.

Although they used tobacco in their research, Gallie predicts vitamin C could generate twins and triplets in other plants as well.

"Because the early stages of embryo development are so conserved among plant species, we expect that vitamin C will have a similar effect in almost any plant," he said.

A question raised by the study is whether vitamin C might have a similar effect in humans. In contrast to most animals, humans cannot make vitamin C and it must, therefore, be obtained regularly from dietary sources.

"Although the development of plant and animal embryos differ in many respects, the manner in which the genetically identical twins were produced in our study is similar to that for identical human twins in that it is the very first division of the fertilized egg into two separate cells that produces the two separate embryos, resulting in two seedlings in plants or two fetuses in humans," Gallie said. "Despite the differences in the subsequent development of embryos in plants and humans, the critical effect of vitamin C is on this very first cell division."

To Gallie's knowledge, no study linking vitamin C to twins in humans has been carried out to date.

"Humans are mutants in that we lack the last enzyme in the pathway needed to produce vitamin C," he said.

Vitamin C is well known to prevent scurvy, a disease affecting collagen synthesis, iron utilization, and immune cell development. It also improves cardiovascular and immune cell function and is used to regenerate vitamin E. The vitamin is present at high levels in some fruits such as citrus and some green leafy vegetables, but present in low levels in those crops most important to humans such as grains.

Vitamin C is as essential for plant health as it is for humans. It serves as an important antioxidant, destroying reactive oxygen species that can otherwise damage or even kill cells. In plants, vitamin C is important for photosynthetic function, in controlling water usage, in providing protection against pollutants such as ozone, and promoting growth.

A grant from the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station supported the study.

Previously, Gallie and Chen, who helped develop technology to increase vitamin C in plants, showed that a boost of the vitamin can help plants defend themselves against the ravages of ozone — smog's particularly nasty component. They also showed that reducing DHAR increases a plant's responsiveness to drought conditions.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 20,500 students. The campus will open a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Strong, steady forces at work during cell division
20.10.2016 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Disturbance wanted
20.10.2016 | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>