Recent Posts

Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls ($)

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Cell walls are complex mixtures of cellulose microfibrils, proteins and other materials. Their mechanical properties can be measured and modeled, but it is not always simple to translate these measurements to changes at the molecular level. Zhang et al. used atomic force microscopy to provide an unprecedented…

Synthetic conversion of leaf chloroplasts into carotenoid-rich plastids reveals mechanistic basis of natural chromoplast development (PNAS) ($)

Biofortification aims at increasing the content of health-promoting nutrients in edible parts of the plant. As an example, enhancing the production of carotenoids - natural pigments that provide the yellow to red color – in crops could prevent vitamin A deficiency in humans. In nature, carotenoids…

Review. Plant nutrition for human nutrition: Hints from rice research and future perspectives

Among all the mineral elements transported from the soil to the plant, cadmium (Cd) and arsenic (As)- are toxic for all organisms whereas 13 micronutrients, including iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn), are beneficial for both human and plant nutrition. Ideally, food crops should accumulate fewer soil contaminants…

Review: The genetic basis and nutritional benefits of pigmented rice (Frontiers Genetics)

Pigmented rice varieties are those in which a pigment is deposited in the bran, the outer layer of the grain. The pigment can be from brown to red (proanthocyanidins) or from purple to black (anthocyanins). In the course of domestication, humans have selected against the genetic factors responsible for…

Synthetic biogenesis of chromoplasts from leaf chloroplasts (bioRxiv)

Chromoplasts are a type of plastid, usually found in fruits and flowers, that can accumulate large amounts of carotenoids including beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). It has been proposed that increasing chromoplast formation could be a way to enhance human consumption of vitamin A. In a new report, Llorente…

Compositional analysis of genetically engineered GR2E “Golden Rice” (J. Agric. Food Chem.)

In Southeast Asian countries, rice accounts for two-thirds of the caloric intake for many people. This narrow dietary base is often correlated with vitamin A deficiency, which can cause blindness, anemia and weakened immunity. In an effort to enhance vitamin A consumption, rice has been engineered to…

Review: The challenges of delivering genetically modified crops with nutritional enhancement traits (Nature Plants) ($)

Despite the widespread success of genetically modified (GM) crops resistant to herbicides and insect herbivory, GM food crops with nutritional enhancement traits remain on the fringes of commercial agriculture. In this review, Napier et al. examine the current state of GM food crops and the obstacles…