Biotech Updates

Researchers Reach a Breakthrough for Protein Levels in Key Staple Crop

February 11, 2011

Enriching the nutritional content of cassava that provides enormous amount of starch but low in protein content would be a good option in improving the nutrition of the hungry and the poor in Asia and Africa. To this end, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center's leading scientist Claude Fauquet and colleagues have established a genetic engineering method of improving the dietary protein of cassava.

In the paper entitled Transgenic biofortification of the starch staple cassava (Manihot esculenta) generates a novel sink for protein published in the PLoS ONE journal, the researchers modified cassava to contain zeolin gene. The resulting transgenic cassava was found to contain total protein levels of 12.5% dry weight within the tissue, a four-fold increase as compared to the non-transgenic controls. When consumed by a two-year old child at 50% of his dietary energy need, the transgenic cassava can provide 16 g dietary protein compared to only 3 g from wild type cassava.

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