Improving Rice for High Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E, and Enhanced Iron and Zinc Bioavailability
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Dr. Peter Beyer, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany - DE
Engineering Rice for High Beta Carotene, Vitamin E and Enhanced Fe and Zn Bioavailability
Research ObjectivesProject Progress & Milestones

Poor nutrition is a major global health problem, contributing to half of the nearly 10 million deaths that occur each year in children younger than 5. Although rice is a primary source of food for much of the world’s population, it is a poor source of many essential micronutrients, as well as protein. As a result, widespread reliance on rice is the primary cause of micronutrient malnutrition throughout much of the developing world. A promising long-term solution to this problem is to genetically modify crops, including rice, so that they have high levels of essential nutrients.

Dr. Beyer is leading an international, collaborative effort called the ProVitaMinRice Consortium. The consortium's members are developing new varieties of rice with increased levels or bioavailability of pro-vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, and zinc as well improved protein quality and content. As their platform, the consortium's researchers are using Golden Rice, which has been genetically engineered to produce and accumulate pro-vitamin A in the grain, and are working with novel transgene-based technologies to enhance the availability of the target nutrients. The project plans to incorporate the new rice lines as well as Golden Rice into ongoing breeding and seed delivery programs for developing countries, and to make the products freely available to low-income farmers in the developing world.

Research Objectives:
Stack multiple micronutrient and bioavailability traits into Golden Rice
Identify the genetic and biochemical basis of mineral bioavailability in plant-based foods
Assess the bioavailability of iron in human subjects, using pro-vitamin A- improved rice lines
Improve protein quality and content, particularly with regard to lysine
Introduce novel traits from transgenic lines into regional rice cultivars through conventional breeding
Project Progress & Milestones:
Investigators are breeding the pro-vitamin A trait of Golden Rice into locally adapted Asian rice varieties. Field trials are expected to begin in late 2007.
The team is producing promising Golden Rice lines, obtained from existing germplasm, that have higher iron and zinc levels.
Investigators have made advances toward identifying factors to improve bioavailability of iron and zinc in the rice.
The team has obtained transgenic Golden Rice plants that express biosynthetic genes involved in increasing vitamin E. These plants are being tested for the desired trait.
The team has obtained transgenic plants with high protein-bound lysine, and has produced plants with increased free lysine.
Michigan State University, Michigan, United States - US
Baylor College, Texas, United States - US
International Rice Research Institute, IRRI, Laguna, Philippines - PH
Philippine Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines - PH
Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute, Can Tho, Viet Nam - VN
Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China - CN
USDA-ARS, Texas, United States - US
Anderson Lab, Missouri, United States - US
Dale Lab, Melbourne, Australia - AU

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