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 Nanotubes built from protein crystals: Breakthrough in biomolecular engineering
15.11.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht Insect Antibiotic Provides New Way to Eliminate Bacteria
15.11.2018 | 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: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland

15.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

When electric fields make spins swirl

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery of a cool super-Earth

15.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>