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Science. 2008 Jan 18;319(5861):330-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1150255.

Natural genetic variation in lycopene epsilon cyclase tapped for maize biofortification.

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1
Institute for Genomic Diversity, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

Abstract

Dietary vitamin A deficiency causes eye disease in 40 million children each year and places 140 to 250 million at risk for health disorders. Many children in sub-Saharan Africa subsist on maize-based diets. Maize displays considerable natural variation for carotenoid composition, including vitamin A precursors alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Through association analysis, linkage mapping, expression analysis, and mutagenesis, we show that variation at the lycopene epsilon cyclase (lcyE) locus alters flux down alpha-carotene versus beta-carotene branches of the carotenoid pathway. Four natural lcyE polymorphisms explained 58% of the variation in these two branches and a threefold difference in provitamin A compounds. Selection of favorable lcyE alleles with inexpensive molecular markers will now enable developing-country breeders to more effectively produce maize grain with higher provitamin A levels.

PMID:
18202289
PMCID:
PMC2933658
DOI:
10.1126/science.1150255
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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