Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UC Riverside Biochemists Develop Technology to Increase Vitamin C in Plants

06.03.2003


Biochemist Daniel Gallie of UC Riverside. (Photo credit: Steve Walag.)


Biochemist Daniel R. Gallie at the University of California, Riverside and his research team of Zhong Chen, Todd Young, Jun Ling, and Su-Chih Chang report in the March 18, 2003, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that they have developed technology that increases the amount of vitamin C in plants, including grains, by increasing the amount of the enzyme that is responsible for recycling vitamin C. "The ability to increase the level of vitamin C in plant food will enhance their nutritive value," said Gallie, who is professor of biochemistry. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station over the last 5 years.

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is essential to prevent diseases, such as scurvy, that affect the connective tissue. It also improves cardiovascular and immune cell function and is used to regenerate vitamin E. In contrast to most animals, humans cannot make vitamin C and it must, therefore, be obtained regularly from dietary sources. Vitamin C 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.

"Once used, vitamin C can be regenerated by the enzyme dehydroascorbate reductase or DHAR," explained Gallie. "Through this means, plants recycle the vitamin so that it can be used repeatedly. If vitamin C is not salvaged by DHAR, it is quickly lost."



In the PNAS paper, the authors reason that increasing the amount of DHAR in plants might improve their ability to recycle vitamin C and thereby increase its amount. To examine this, the researchers introduced the gene encoding DHAR from wheat into corn to increase the amount of DHAR by up to 100-fold.

"We found that the increase in DHAR elevated the amount of vitamin C in grain and leaves of corn, showing that the vitamin C content of plants can indeed be elevated by increasing expression of the enzyme responsible for recycling the vitamin," said Gallie.

The researchers achieved similar results using a member of the solanaceae family (this family comprises, for example, potatoes and tomatoes), which was used as a model for non-grain crops.

"This technology improves nutrition by increasing the number of foods from which the vitamin can be obtained as well as increasing the level of the vitamin in those foods which are already good sources of vitamin C," said Gallie.

The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is 75 mg for adult women and 90 mg for adult men, which is sufficient to prevent diseases arising from severe vitamin C deficiency such as scurvy. This amount can be obtained through a balanced diet that emphasizes fresh green leafy vegetables and citrus. However, these foods are often not sufficiently represented in the diet and up to 30% of the population fail to achieve the RDA for this vitamin.

"Some studies have indicated that higher amounts of the vitamin may be necessary to ensure good cardiovascular health and immune cell function which has led to a recommendation that the RDA for vitamin C be increased to a minimum of 200 mg," said Gallie. "Increasing the RDA for vitamin C would mean a greater dietary emphasis of foodstuffs rich in the vitamin. Because the number of plant foods rich in vitamin C is limited, our ability to increase the vitamin C content in foods provides an important means by which the level of this vitamin can be increased in green leafy crops as well as in grains and should make it easier for people to obtain enough of the vitamin for their optimal health."

The UCR Department of Biochemistry engages in basic biochemical and molecular biological research and instruction. Areas of research specialization represented within the Biochemistry Department and its Graduate Program span contemporary biochemistry from the cellular to the molecular level and include the following areas of concentration: molecular biology, physical biochemistry, molecular endocrinology, plant biochemistry & molecular biology, signal transduction, and biomedical research.

Additional Contacts:
Dr. Daniel Gallie

Iqbal Pittalwala | UC Riverside
Further information:
http://www.newsroom.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?id=538
http://www.pnas.org/
http://www.biochemistry.ucr.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Polymers Based on Boron?
18.01.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production
18.01.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>