Crop Biotech Update

Improvement of Vitamin E Content in Plants Through Chloroplast GE

October 3, 2012

Vitamin E or tocopherol (Toc) is an important lipid-soluble antioxidant produced in the chloroplasts. To improve the production of vitamin E in plants, Yukinori Yabuti from Tottori University in Japan and other scientists used chloroplast transformation technique. They generated three types of transplastomic tobacco plants: pTTC, pTTMT and pTTC-TMT.

Results showed that levels of vitamin E rose due to the increase in γ-Toc in pTTC plants. pTTMT plants also showed changes in Toc composition, compared with the wild-type plants. In the pTTC-TMT plants, Toc levels also increased, with α-Toc as the predominant form. This form has the highest activity in humans.

The researchers also tested the same methodology to produce transplastomic lettuce plants. The generated lettuce plants also exhibited the same results of increased Toc levels compared with the wild-type plants. Thus, the researchers concluded that chloroplast genetic engineering in an effective tool in improving the quality and quantity of vitamin E in plants.

Subscribers of Transgenic Research journal may download a copy of the paper at http://www.springerlink.com/content/y46t1812uh603m57/fulltext.pdf.