Submitted to: Nature Biotechnology
Publication Type: Literature Review
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2005
Publication Date: 4/1/2005
Citation: Grusak, M.A. 2005. Golden rice gets a boost from maize. Nature Biotechnology. 23(4):429-430.
Technical Abstract: Improving the nutritional quality of our plant-based food supply is a topic of active, interdisciplinary research. Previous efforts have led to the development of Golden Rice, a proof-of-concept transgenic line that was engineered with two carotenoid enzymes to produce beta-carotene (a pro-vitamin A carotenoid) in its seeds. Although heralded by the popular press as a potential tool to combat vitamin A deficiency in at-risk human populations, the low levels of beta-carotene in this first-generation Golden Rice have raised questions about its overall nutritional potential. In order to overcome a perceived bottleneck in the synthesis of beta-carotene, Paine et al. assessed the ability of different versions of a key enzyme to enhance flux through the carotenoid pathway. In this issue, they report the development of a new generation of Golden Rice, which uses an enzyme from maize (Zea mays) to dramatically increase grain carotenoid levels over 20-fold. In this News and Views Commentary, we discuss the implications of this work, both for human populations and more broadly for biotechnology.