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Journal Article

Genetic manipulation of carotenoid pathway in higher plants

P. S. Naik, A. Chanemougasoundharam, S. M. Paul Khurana and G. Kalloo
Current Science
Vol. 85, No. 10 (25 November 2003), pp. 1423-1430
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24108823
Page Count: 8
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Genetic manipulation of carotenoid pathway in higher plants
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Abstract

Food security in developing countries has both the quantity and quality components. The major identified malnutritions are iron > iodine > vitamin A. Each year, more than one million vitamin-A deficiency (VAD)-associated childhood deaths occur. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 230 million children are at the risk of clinical or subclinical VAD, which can largely be prevented. VAD makes children vulnerable to infections and worsens the course of many infections. VAD is also the single most important cause of blindness among children in developing countries; about 0.5 million per year. β-carotene, which naturally occurs as coloured pigment in plants, is a dietary precursor of vitamin A. VAD-associated risks can be reduced to a greater extent by regular intake of β-carotene-rich food. Besides, some carotenoids have also been found to function as antioxidants that reduce risk of certain cancers and help regulate the immune system. Recent researches, therefore, have been focused to elevate β-carotene content, especially in crop plants. Elucidation of the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway in plants, identification of enzymes and cloning of genes involved in the regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis led to production of transgenic plants with increased carotenoid content. This article briefly reviews the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway, cloning of carotenogenic genes and genetic manipulation of carotenoid biosynthesis in plants, with special emphasis on β-carotene.

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