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Crop Biotech Update

Co-expression of Soybean Genes Leads to Improved Folate Content in Maize and Wheat

February 20, 2019

Folate is a form of B-vitamin necessary for the production of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, and other functions. Low intake of folate in the body may lead to serious disorders. To improve human folate status, it has been recommended to enhance the folate content of food crops, which can be achieved through metabolic engineering. To do this, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences scientists cloned two GmGCHI (GTP cyclohydrolase I) genes (Gm8gGCHI and Gm3gGCHI) and one GmADCS (aminodeoxychorismate synthase) gene from soybean, which are responsible for synthesizing the folate precursors pterin and p-aminobenzoate, respectively.

They tested the functions of the genes first in transgenic Arabidopsis plants and found that Gm8gGCHI increased pterin and folate production more than Gm3gGCHI did. Then they co-expressed Gm8gGCHI and GmADCS in maize and wheat to boost their folate content. Results showed a significant increase in the folate levels in transgenic maize and wheat grains, implying that the two-gene coexpression strategy could be used to enhance the folate levels in the two important stable food crops.

Read the research article in the Journal of Experimental Botany.