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Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Engineer White Maize for Astaxanthin Production

August 17, 2016

Astaxanthin is a ketocarotenoid commonly found in crustaceans and is used as a dietary supplement for humans. Gemma Farre of the University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center in Spain, led a team of researchers from various institutions in Europe in developing a transgenic maize capable of producing this high value carotenoid in its kernels.

The team introduced a β-carotene hydroxylase and a β-carotene ketolase into a white maize genetic background to extend the carotenoid pathway, with astaxanthin as the desired end product. The team then overexpressed phytoene synthase, the controlling enzyme of carotenogenesis, to enhance carotenoid production. On the other hand, lycopene ε-cyclase was knocked-down to direct precursors into the extended carotenoid pathway.

The developed astaxanthin transgenic line was then crossed with a high oil-maize genotype. This was done to develop an astaxanthin-producing line with increased storage capacity for astaxanthin.

For more on this study, read the article in Transgenic Research.