Enhancing pterin and para-aminobenzoate content is not sufficient to successfully biofortify potato tubers and Arabidopsis thaliana plants with folate

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Abstract

Folates are important cofactors in one-carbon metabolism in all living organisms. Since only plants and micro- organisms are capable of biosynthesizing folates, humans depend entirely on their diet as a folate source. Given the low folate content of several staple crop products, folate deficiency affects regions all over the world. Folate biofortification of staple crops through enhancement of pterin and para-aminobenzoate levels, precursors of the folate biosynthesis pathway, was reported to be successful in tomato and rice. This study shows that the same strategy is not sufficient to enhance folate content in potato tubers and Arabidopsis thaliana plants and concludes that other steps in folate biosynthesis and/or metabolism need to be engineered to result in substantial folate accumulation. The findings provide a plausible explanation why, more than half a decade after the proof of concept in rice and tomato, successful folate biofortification of other food crops through enhancement of para-aminobenzoate and pterin content has not been reported thus far. A better understanding of the folate pathway is required in order to determine an engineering strategy that can be generalized to most staple crops.

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