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Scientists develop rice with high folate stability

Researchers from Ghent University in Belgium have succeeded in stabilizing folates in biofortified rice. The research team developed a new rice prototype, and applied two strategies for the folate to remain stable for long storage. The first strategy involved binding folates with a folate binding protein. This protein is well studied in mammals, but unknown in plants. It occurs in milk and protects folate from degradation. Based on a folate binding protein from bovine milk, the folate content of rice remained stable upon long storage.
The second strategy consisted of the stimulation of the last step in folate production, which extends the tail of the folate molecule. This promotes cellular retention and binding to folate dependent proteins. Aside from enhancing folate stability, the new gene combinations also increased folate levels by up to 150-fold than those found in regular rice.
All genes used in the study were placed next to each other on a single piece of DNA, the genetic material can easily be transferred to edible rice varieties. It is also easier to make combinations with other interesting traits, such as enhancement of other vitamins or minerals, such as iron. This technology can also be used in other crops, both cereals (wheat, sorghum) and non-cereals (potato, banana).
For more information, read the news release at the Ghent University website.

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