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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Gene to Improve Carotenoid Content in Food
See also: US Patent Office Full Record

Northeast Area
  Ithaca, New York

Patent Number: 8071841
Docket Number: 2107
Serial Number: 11639064
Date Patented: 12/06/2011

Technology Description:  Agricultural Research Service scientists and researchers from Cornell University have isolated a gene that could be used to increase carotenoid content in foods.  The gene causes high levels of beta-carotene to accumulate in various parts of the plant that normally do not contain carotenoids.  Carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments responsible for color shading in plant leaves, fruits and flowers. Beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein—more commonly recognized—are carotenoids.  Beta carotene gives carrots their orange color, while lutein is a major yellow pigment of corn and leafy green vegetables.


Some of the current technology focused on increasing caroteniod content in crops has proven difficult to raise carotenoid to levels necessary for optimal human health.  This technology offers a new strategy to enrich carotenoids in crops.  Laboratory and field studies have demonstrated the success of this gene in increasing beta carotene in cauliflower plants.  Carotenoids act as biological antioxidants, protecting cells and tissues from damage caused by naturally occurring free radicals in the body.  Beta carotene is a potentially important means of lessening vitamin A deficiency, a serious nutritional problem worldwide. There is an increasing demand for foods with enhanced nutritional value.  This gene could be used to produce plants enriched with carotenoids, which may provide protection against certain diseases. The gene may also be used to impart color variation in plants, and as animal feed additives.

Biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical companies could use this technology to develop foods enriched with carotenoid content.  The technology could be used to produce high market value products with enhanced nutritional content.


Reference:  Please refer to S.N. 11/639,064 (Docket #0021.07), “Use of the Cauliflower Orange (OR) Gene to Enhance Carotenoid Levels in Staple Crops,” which was filed on December 14, 2006, and is a Continuation in Part of S.N. 11/296,025 (Docket #0186.03), “The OR Gene and Its Use in Manipulating Carotenoid Content and Composition in Plants and Other Organisms,” which was filed on
December 27, 2005.  Foreign rights are not available.




Li Li
U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research
Ithaca, NY  14853-2901
Phone: (697) 255-5708
   Fax: (607) 255-1132

David F. Garvin
Plant Science Research
Saint Paul, MN  55108-6026
Phone: (612) 625-1975
   Fax: (612) 649-5058

Julia Vrebalov

Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Res.
Ithaca, NY  14853
Phone: (607) 254-1259
   Fax: (607) 254-1242

Lu Shan
Cornell University

Boyce Thompson Institute
Ithaca, NY  14853
Phone: (607) 255-7825
   Fax: (607) 255-1132

Diana Marie O’Halloran
Cornell University
Boyce Thompson Institute
Phone: (607) 255-7825
   Fax: (607) 255-1132

Last Modified: 10/1/2015
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