Item Details

Title: Golden bananas in the field: elevated fruit pro-vitamin A from the expression of a single banana transgene

Date Published: 2017
Author/s: Jean-Yves Paul, Harjeet Khanna, Jennifer Kleidon, Phuong Hoang, Jason Geijskes, Jeff Daniells, Ella Zaplin, Yvonne Rosenberg, Anthony James, Bulukani Mlalazi, Pradeep Deo, Geofrey Arinaitwe, Priver Namanya,
Douglas Becker, James Tindamanyire, Wilber
Data publication:
Funding Agency : Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development
(United Kingdom).
Copyright/patents/trade marks: Society For Experimental Biology
Journal Publisher: Plant Biotechnology Journal
Affiliation: Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld, Australia, Agri-Science Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, South Johnstone, Qld, Australia, PlantVax Inc, Rockville, MD, USA, National Agricultural Research Laboratories, National Agricultural Research Organization, Kampala, Uganda
Keywords: Vitamin A deficiency,
Uganda, pro-vitamin A, staple food
crop, banana, biofortification, genetic


Vitamin A deficiency remains one of the world’s major public health problems despite food fortification and supplements strategies. Biofortification of staple crops with enhanced levels of pro-vitamin A (PVA) offers a sustainable alternative strategy to both food fortification and supplementation. As a proof of concept, PVA-biofortified transgenic Cavendish bananas were generated and field trialed in Australia with the aim of achieving a target level of 20 lg/g of dry weight (dw) b-carotene equivalent (b-CE) in the fruit. Expression of a Fe’i banana-derived phytoene synthase 2a (MtPsy2a) gene resulted in the generation of lines with PVA levels exceeding the target level with one line reaching 55 lg/g dw b-CE. Expression of the maize phytoene synthase 1 (ZmPsy1) gene, used to develop ‘Golden Rice 2’, also resulted in increased fruit PVA levels although many lines displayed undesirable phenotypes. Constitutive expression of either transgene with the maize polyubiquitin promoter increased PVA accumulation from the earliest stage of fruit development. In contrast, PVA accumulation was restricted to the late stages of fruit development when either the banana 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase or the expansin 1 promoters were used to drive the same transgenes. Wild-type plants with the longest fruit development time had also the highest fruit PVA concentrations. The results from this study suggest that early activation of the rate-limiting enzyme in the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway and extended fruit maturation time are essential factors to achieve optimal PVA concentrations in banana fruit.