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Transgenic Approaches for Cyanogen Reduction in Cassava

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For cassava to become a safe and acceptable crop, it is necessary to reduce the cyanogen levels in cassava foods. While this objective can be achieved by processing procedures, recent findings have shown that it is also possible to achieve it by suppression of cyanogen synthesis or by accelerating cyanogen turnover and volatilization. In 2003, cyanogen-free cultivars were generated by selective inhibition CYP79D1/D2 gene expression. The CYP79D1/D2 enzymes catalyze the first-dedicated step in cyanogen synthesis. Tissue-specific inhibition of CYP79D1/D2 expression in leaves lead to a 99 reduction in root cyanogen levels, indicating that the cyanogenic glycoside, linamarin, is synthesized in leaves and transported to roots. An alternative strategy to the reduce cyanogen content is to enhance cyanogen detoxification and cyanide volatilization during processing. This strategy has the advantage that cyanogen levels in unprocessed roots are not altered, potentially providing protection against herbivory and/or theft. To produce cultivars that promote rapid cyanide volatilization, hydroxynitrile lyase (HNL), which catalyzes the last step in cyanogenesis, was overexpressed in roots. Elevated HNL activity resulted in a 3-fold increase in the rate of cyanogen turnover. Importantly, the cyanogen content of the transformed and wild-type plants was identical, a potential benefit for farmers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Department of Biology, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico 00680. 2: Ohio State University, Department of Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology, Columbus, OH 43210.

Publication date: September 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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