Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Reveal Biofortification Increases Availability and Longevity of Beta-Carotene in Sorghum

October 19, 2016

Researchers from DuPont Pioneer and Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation have shown that increasing vitamin E and beta-carotene production in sorghum significantly improves the availability and longevity of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the human body.

According to researchers from DuPont Pioneer, oxidation is the main factor in the rapid breakdown of beta-carotene in sorghum grain. They were able to slow down the degradation process by inserting a gene from barley, which serves to increase vitamin E. A powerful anti-oxidant, vitamin E also helps more than double the half-life of beta-carotene in grain stored under normal conditions. Vitamin E improved an unprotected half-life of 2-3 weeks to 8-10 weeks.

Without biofortification, sorghum grain, which is a mainstay in many diets, is seriously deficient in vitamin A, iron, and zinc. Vitamin A deficiency causes a number of symptoms, including blindness and an increase in mortality from measles and diarrhea. Long-term deficiencies can cause permanent mental and physical impairment.

For more details, read the news release at DuPont Pioneer website.