Engineering Golden Rice

The process of engineering golden rice

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Engineering Golden Rice

Vitamin A deficiency

  • Lack of vitamin A in the diet can lead to blindness.
  • Many people suffer from vitamin A deficiency, particularly in Africa and South East Asia where in many of the countries they rely on rice as the main staple food.
  • But many of the poorer countries which are less economically developed are unable to have access to sufficient food and balanced diets.

Vitamin A and beta-carotene

  • Vitamin A only comes from animal sources, vegetarians get their intake of vitamin A from beta carotene a precursor which in converted to vitamin A in the gut.
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Rice has been engineered to be rich in beta-carote

  • Rice plants contain a gene that codes for the production of beta-carotene.
  • It is a photosynthetic molecule so is required in the green parts of the plant.
  • In the parts of the plant that are eaten (the endosperm) the genes for beta carotene are switched off.

Scientists have worked to engineer rice plants that produce beta-carotene in the endosperm.

Engineering Golden Rice

  • Insertion of two genes into the rice genome were needed to activate the metabolic pathway in the endosperm cells:
    • Phytoene synthetase
    • Crt 1 enzyme
  • They were inserted into the genome near a specific promoter sequence that switches on genes associated with endosperm development.
  • They were expressed as the endosperm grew.
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