Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Starch-controlling gene fuels more protein in soybean plants

08.04.2011
A newly discovered gene introduced into soybean plants has increased the amount of protein in the plant's seed and could hold promise for helping meet nutritional needs of a hungry world.

Eve Wurtele, professor of genetics, development and cell biology; and Ling Li, an adjunct assistant professor and an associate scientist working in her laboratory, have placed a gene found only in Arabidopsis plants into soybean plants and increased the amount of protein in the soybean seeds by 30 to 60 percent.

The results were a pleasant surprise to the researchers as the function of the gene, known as QQS, in the Arabidopsis was previously unclear because its sequence is very dissimilar from all other plant genes.

Arabidopsis is a small, flowering plant in the mustard family that is often used in scientific research.

"Most genes contain clues in their DNA sequence as to their biological function," said Wurtele. "But this one has no sequence features that gave us any hint of what it's doing."

Soybean seeds with the gene contain 30 to 60 percent more protein.
When the researchers neutralized the gene in Arabidopsis, they discovered the gene was involved in regulating starch accumulation, called deposition.

"Based on the changes in activities of other genes that occurred when we altered QQS, we conjectured that it wasn't directly involved in starch synthesis, but rather it may be involved in altering [the plant's] composition in general," said Wurtele. "We decided to test this concept by transferring the gene to an agronomically important plant species, soybean, which has a seed and is important as a source of vegetable protein and oil."

"We found that the QQS transgene increased protein production in the soybean seed," she added. "That was the best possible scenario."

In addition to having a DNA sequence that is not similar to any other gene in that or any other plant, the gene is also unusual because it has only 59 amino acids, Li said. The median size of a gene in Arabidopsis plants is 346 amino acids.

Li discovered the gene in 2004 and named it for her daughter.

"My daughter was a half-year old. This gene was so small and my daughter was so small," Li laughs. "QQ is my daughter's nickname in Chinese."

In addition to altering the protein-producing qualities of the gene, Wurtele hopes that the discovery may lead to greater understanding of other genes that don't have recognizable functionalities based on their sequences.

"This may give us an insight into the other genes with obscure features and provide us a window as to how they function," she said.

Wurtele hopes the discovery may help people in areas who survive on protein-deficient diets.

"We were so pleased [the gene] altered composition in soybean," she said. "What if this basic research discovery could lead to increased protein content in potatoes, cassava, or other crop species that are staples to people in developing nations?

"That would be better than I imagined."

This research is supported in part by funding from the National Science Foundation and Iowa State University's Plant Science Institute.

This patent-pending technology is available for licensing from the Iowa State University Research Foundation, which also provided technology development funds.

Eve Wurtele | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>