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Crop Biotech Update

Overexpression of Alfalfa TMT Increases α-Tocopherol content in Arabidopsis Seeds

July 20, 2016

Vitamin E is an essential vitamin obtained from diet for proper growth and development. γ-tocopherol methyltransferase (γ-TMT) which catalyzes the conversion of δ- and γ-tocopherols into β- and α-tocopherols, respectively, is the final enzyme involved in the vitamin E pathway. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, led by Jishan Jiang overexpressed Medicago sativa's γ-TMT in (MsTMT) in Arabidopsis in hopes of improving the plant's vitamin E content.

The overexpression of MsTMT increased the α-tocopherol content 15 times higher than that of wild type Arabidopsis seeds without altering the total content of vitamin E. Interestingly, the biomass and the expression levels of several osmotic marker genes were significantly higher in the transgenic lines.

Meanwhile, overexpression of MsTMT in alfalfa led to a slight but significant increase in α-tocopherol in leaves and also resulted in delayed leaf senescence. The crude protein content was also increased. This indicates that the increase in α-tocopherol occurred in transgenic alfalfa without compromising the nutritional qualities.

MsTMT overexpression provides a promising method in improving the α-tocopherol content of crops.

For more information on this promising study, read the article in Plant Science.