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J Plant Physiol. 2003 Jul;160(7):821-9.

Vitamin production in transgenic plants.

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SunGene GmbH & Co. KGaA, Corrensstr. 3, D-06466 Gatersleben, Germany.


Plants are a major source of vitamins in the human diet. Due to their significance for human health and development, research has been initiated to understand the biosynthesis of vitamins in plants. The pathways that are furthest advanced in elucidation are those of provitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. There is little knowledge about the regulation, storage, sink and degradation of any vitamin made in plants, or the interaction of vitamin biosynthetic pathways with other metabolic pathways. Researchers as well as life science companies have endeavoured to manipulate levels of vitamins in order to create functional food with enhanced health benefits, and even with the goal of achieving levels worth extracting from plant tissues. Thus far, metabolic engineering has resulted in transgenic plants that contain elevated levels of provitamin A, vitamin C and E, respectively. Additional research is necessary to identify all relevant target genes in order to further improve and tailor plants with elevated vitamin contents at will.

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