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Document type
  • Peer-reviewed journal article
GE organism
  • maize
GE trait
  • quality
  • USA


  • positive effect

Generation of transgenic maize with enhanced provitamin A content Open Access

Aluru, M; Xu, Y; Guo, R; Wang, Z; Li, S; White, W; Wang, K; Rodermel, S
Journal of Experimental Botany. 2008 August. 59(13):3551-3562

Link to full text (open access, freely available)

PMID: 18723758 DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ern212 ISSN: 1460-2431


Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) affects over 250 million people worldwide and is one of the most prevalent nutritional deficiencies in developing countries, resulting in significant socio-economic losses. Provitamin A carotenoids such as beta-carotene, are derived from plant foods and are a major source of vitamin A for the majority of the world's population. Several years of intense research has resulted in the production of 'Golden Rice 2' which contains sufficiently high levels of provitamin A carotenoids to combat VAD. In this report, the focus is on the generation of transgenic maize with enhanced provitamin A content in their kernels. Overexpression of the bacterial genes crtB (for phytoene synthase) and crtI (for the four desaturation steps of the carotenoid pathway catalysed by phytoene desaturase and zeta-carotene desaturase in plants), under the control of a 'super gamma-zein promoter' for endosperm-specific expression, resulted in an increase of total carotenoids of up to 34-fold with a preferential accumulation of beta-carotene in the maize endosperm. The levels attained approach those estimated to have a significant impact on the nutritional status of target populations in developing countries. The high beta-carotene trait was found to be reproducible over at least four generations. Gene expression analyses suggest that increased accumulation of beta-carotene is due to an up-regulation of the endogenous lycopene beta-cylase. These experiments set the stage for the design of transgenic approaches to generate provitamin A-rich maize that will help alleviate VAD.


β-carotene, CRTB, CRTI, γ-zein promoter, lycopene β-cyclase, provitamin A carotenoids, provitamin A-rich maize, vitamin A deficiency (VAD)


Funding source
  • HarvestPlus
Funding country
  • United States
Funding type
  • government
  • NGO: independent

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Cite this study


Aluru, M, Y Xu, R Guo, Z Wang, S Li, W White, K Wang, S Rodermel. "Generation of transgenic maize with enhanced provitamin A content." Journal of Experimental Botany 59.13 (2008): 3551-3562. Web. 20 Apr. 2024.


Aluru, M., Xu, Y., Guo, R., Wang, Z., Li, S., White, W., Wang, K., & Rodermel, S. (2008). Generation of transgenic maize with enhanced provitamin A content. Journal of Experimental Botany, 59(13), 3551-3562. doi:10.1093/jxb/ern212

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