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Crop Biotech Update

Chinese Scientists Develop Purple Rice Using Novel Gene Stacking System

June 28, 2017

Researchers in China have developed a genetic engineering approach capable of delivering many genes at once and used it to make rice endosperm produce high levels of anthocyanin. The resulting purple endosperm rice holds potential for decreasing the risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic disorders.

The team from various universities and research institutions in China developed a highly efficient, easy-to-use transgene stacking system called ‘TransGene Stacking II' which enables the assembly of a large number of genes into a single vector for plant transformation. Genetic engineering has been used to develop biofotified rice with beta-carotene and folate, but not anthocyanins. Previous attempts to engineer anthocyanin production in rice have failed due to the underlying complex biosynthesis pathway.

After identifying the genes for anthocyanin production, they used their ‘TransGene Stacking II' to transform eight anthocyanin pathway genes in the endosperm of the japonica and indica rice varieties. The resulting purple endosperm rice had high anthocyanin levels and antioxidant activity in the endosperm.

The developed system could provide a versatile toolkit for transgene stacking. The toolkit possesses a huge potential for synthetic biology.

For more on this study, read the article in Molecular Plant.