Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Usage of plants as bio-factories - Large scale production of pharmaceuticals in tomatoes

30.10.2015

Fruits and vegetables are healthy. This is something every child knows. However, we would need to consume high amounts of many plant products to achieve an efficient dose of helpful natural compounds, because those are often low-concentrated in plants.

Scientists of Dr. Alisdair Fernie’s research group at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) and of Prof. Cathie Martin’s group from the John Innes Center, England, described a possibility to use crop plants for large scale production of natural compounds. They published their findings in the journal “Nature Communications”.


Medically relevant compounds can be enriched in tomatoes to produce industrial quantities of pharmaceuticals at natural basis.

Saleh Alseekh, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology

Medically relevant substances in plants are so called secondary metabolites, including e.g. pigments and deterrents that enable plants to protect themselves against pests. They are not only useful for the plant itself, but can be helpful for humans as well. The beneficial effects of most medicinal plants are a consequence of them containing these substrates.

Two medical compounds, namely resveratrol and genistein, belong to the phenylpropanoides. Resveratrol is found in grapes naturally and it has been reported to extend the lifespan of different animals. Genistein, a secondary product in soybean, has been suggested to play a role in the prevention of different cancers, particularly breast cancer.

However, nobody has the ability to drink 50 bottles of wine or to eat 2.5kg soybeans per day – this would be the necessary amount of consumption to receive the beneficial dose of these natural products. The researchers in Germany and England sought for another way to make these compounds available.

For this purpose, the scientists analyzed a gene which is responsible for the production of the so called AtMYB12 protein. This protein itself can actively regulate the phenylpropanoid production. The researchers used the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana for their experiments, a herb which is growing all over the world. “This protein is working like a switch, which can turn the production of secondary plant substances on or off”, describes Alisdair Fernie, research group leader at the MPI MP in Potsdam.

The next step was the introduction of this protein into tomato plants to activate the production of requested compounds in the fruits. Additionally, it was necessary to integrate genes for enzymes from grapes or soybean. Herewith, the researchers managed to integrate a new pathway into tomato plants, which allows the production of resveratrol and genistein.

The integration of valuable compounds into tomatoes has economic advantages. The tomato is a high yielding crop - producing up to 500 tons per hectare in countries delivering the highest yields (FAOSTAT 2013). This qualifies them to work as bio-factories to produce industrial quantities of natural compounds of use. Moreover, they are easy to handle: they can be harvested and juiced and the valuable compounds can be extracted from the juice and directly used as pharmaceuticals in medicine. The authors state, that this technique could also be applied to other compounds. Such production systems are easier and faster in contrast to chemical synthesis or through extraction from traditional plant sources which contain only tiny amounts of respective natural products.

Contact:
Dr. Alisdair Fernie
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Tel. +49 331/567 8211
fernie@mpimp-golm.mpg.de

Dr. Ulrike Glaubitz
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Public Relations
Tel. +49 331/567 8275
glaubitz@mpimp-golm.mpg.de
http://www.mpimp-golm.mpg.de

Original publication:
Yang Zhang, Eugenio Butelli, Saleh Alseekh, Takayuki Tohge, Ghanasyam Rallapalli, Jie Luo, Prashant G. Kawar, Lionel Hill, Angelo Santino, Alisdair R. Fernie & Cathie Martin
Multi-level engineering facilitates the production of phenylpropanoid compounds in tomato
Nature Communications 6, Article number: 863, 26.10.2015, doi:10.1038/ncomms9635

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpimp-golm.mpg.de/2025324/biofactories

Ursula Ross-Stitt | Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>