Enhancement of vitamin E levels in corn

Rocheford T., Wong J., Egesel C., Lambert R.

JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF NUTRITION, vol.21, no.3, 2002 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/07315724.2002.10719265
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: alpha (alpha)-tocopherol, corn, gamma (gamma)-tocopherol, quantitative trait loci (QTL), transgenics, vitamin E, GAMMA-TOCOPHEROL, ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL, MEAT QUALITY, OILS, ANTIOXIDANTS, CAROTENOIDS, INCREASE
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


Vitamin E is the common name that describes eight naturally occurring compounds possessing alpha-tocopherol activity. These eight vitamin E compounds are collectively termed tocols. and all have antioxidant activity. There is natural variation among different corn breeding lines for levels of tocols. The two predominant isomers present in corn grain are gamma-tocopherol and alpha-tocopherol. alpha-tocopherol is considered more desirable for human and animal consumption because it has higher biological activity than gamma-tocopherol. Most corn breeding lines naturally have much more gamma-tocopherol than alpha-tocopherol. Therefore a breeding goal is to increase levels of alpha-tocopherol relative to gamma-tocopherol, However, recent research suggests that gamma-tocopherol and compounds metabolized from it have properties important to human health that are unique from properties of alpha-tocopherol. Therefore it may be desirable to not only increase levels of alpha-tocopherol in corn grain, but also levels of gamma-tocopherol. Determination of levels of tocopherols in corn grain is very laborious, requires HPLC analysis and is too time consuming for use in routine commercial corn breeding programs, Therefore we are performing biotechnology enabled molecular marker mapping of chromosomal regions with genes that control levels and ratios of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol. Breeders can use molecular markers we have identified to expediently select for desirable alleles of genes that will improve levels of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol in corn grain. without having to perform laborious HPLC assays. Another biotechnology strategy we have initiated is genetic transformation of corn with the gamma-tocopherol methyl transferase gene to enhance conversion of gamma-tocopherol to alpha-tocopherol and thus increase levels of alpha-tocopherol, This transgenic strategy has been demonstrated in the model plant Arabidopsis. and we are now applying this approach to corn.