Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 28, Issue 24, pp 1983–1991 | Cite as

Review: genetically modified plants for the promotion of human health



Plants are attractive biological resources because of their ability to produce a huge variety of chemical compounds, and the familiarity of production in even the most rural settings. Genetic engineering gives plants additional characteristics and value for cultivation and post-harvest. Genetically modified (GM) plants of the “first generation” were conferred with traits beneficial to producers, whereas GM plants in subsequent “generations” are intended to provide beneficial traits for consumers. Golden Rice is a promising example of a GM plant in the second generation, and has overcome a number of obstacles for practical use. Furthermore, consumer-acceptable plants with health-promoting properties that are genetically modified using native genes are being developed. The emerging technology of metabolomics will also support the commercial realization of GM plants by providing comprehensive analyzes of plant biochemical components.


Carotenoids Flavonoids Genetically modified plants Golden Rice Vitamin A 



The authors’ original study was supported in part by grants-in-aid for scientific research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.


  1. Al-Babili S, Beyer P (2005) Golden Rice-five years on the road–five years to go? Trends Plant Sci 10:565–573PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker JM, Hawkins ND, Ward JL, Lovegrove A, Napier JA, Shewry PR, Beale MH (2006) A metabolomic study of substantial equivalence of field-grown genetically modified wheat. Plant Biotech J 4:381–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beaton GH, Martorell R, Aronson KJ, Edmonston B, McCabe G, Ross AC, Harvey B (1993) Effectiveness of vitamin A supplementation in the control of young child morbidity and mortality in developing countries. In: Nutrition Policy Discussion Papers number 13. United Nations Administrative Committee on Coordination/Sub-Committee on Nutrition (ACC/SCN)Google Scholar
  4. Bino RJ, Hall RD, Fiehn O, Kopka J, Saito K, Draper J, Nikolau BJ, Mendes P, Roessner-Tunali U, Beale MH, Trethewey RN, Lange BM, Wurtele ES, Sumner LW (2004) Potential of metabolomics as a functional genomics tool. Trends Plant Sci 9:418–425PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Borevitz JO, Xia Y, Blount J, Dixon RA, Lamb C (2000) Activation tagging identifies a conserved MYB regulator of phenylpropanoid biosynthesis. Plant Cell 12:2383–2394PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Breitenbach J, Sandmann G (2005) Zeta-Carotene cis isomers as products and substrates in the plant poly-cis carotenoid biosynthetic pathway to lycopene. Planta 220:785–793PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Broide DH (2001) Molecular and cellular mechanisms of allergic disease. J Allergy Clin Immunol 108:S65–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Catchpole GS, Beckmann M, Enot DP, Mondhe M, Zywicki B, Taylor J, Hardy N, Smith A, King RD, Kell DB, Fiehn O, Draper J (2005) Hierarchical metabolomics demonstrates substantial compositional similarity between genetically modified and conventional potato crops. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:14458–14462PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davuluri GR, van Tuinen A, Mustilli AC, Manfredonia A, Newman R, Burgess D, Brummell DA, King SR, Palys J, Uhlig J, Pennings HM, Bowler C (2004) Manipulation of DET1 expression in tomato results in photomorphogenic phenotypes caused by post-transcriptional gene silencing. Plant J 40:344–354PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davuluri GR, van Tuinen A, Fraser PD, Manfredonia A, Newman R, Burgess D, Brummell DA, King SR, Palys J, Uhlig J, Bramley PM, Pennings HM, Bowler C (2005) Fruit-specific RNAi-mediated suppression of DET1 enhances carotenoid and flavonoid content in tomatoes. Nat Biotechnol 23:890–895PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Faria AM, Weiner HL (2005) Oral tolerance. Immunol Rev 206:232–259PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fiehn O (2002) Metabolomics-the link between genotypes and phenotypes. Plant Mol Biol 48:155–171PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frewer L, Lassen J, Kettlitz B, Scholderer J, Beekman V, Berdal KG (2004) Societal aspects of genetically modified foods. Food Chem Toxicol 42:1181–1193PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hall R, Beale M, Fiehn O, Hardy N, Sumner L, Bino R (2002) Plant metabolomics: the missing link in functional genomics strategies. Plant Cell 14:1437–1440PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hall RD (2006) Plant metabolomics: from holistic hope, to hype, to hot topic. New Phytol 169:453–468PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hirai MY, Yano M, Goodenowe DB, Kanaya S, Kimura T, Awazuhara M, Arita M, Fujiwara T, Saito K (2004) Integration of transcriptomics and metabolomics for understanding of global responses to nutritional stresses in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:10205–10210PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hirai MY, Klein M, Fujikawa Y, Yano M, Goodenowe DB, Yamazaki Y, Kanaya S, Nakamura Y, Kitayama M, Suzuki H, Sakurai N, Shibata D, Tokuhisa J, Reichelt M, Gershenzon J, Papenbrock J, Saito K (2005) Elucidation of gene-to-gene and metabolite-to-gene networks in Arabidopsis by integration of metabolomics and transcriptomics. J Biol Chem 280:25590–25595PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hoa T, Al-Babili S, Schaub P, Potrykus I, Beyer P (2003) Golden Indica and Japonica rice lines amenable to deregulation. Plant Physiol 133:161–169PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kikuchi J, Shinozaki K, Hirayama T (2004) Stable Isotope Labeling of Arabidopsis thaliana for an NMR-Based Metabolomics Approach. Plant Cell Physiol. 45:1099–1104PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kong JM, Chia LS, Goh NK, Chia TF, Brouillard R (2003) Analysis and biological activities of anthocyanins. Phytochemistry 64:923–933PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kumar GB, Ganapathi TR, Revathi CJ, Srinivas L, Bapat VA (2005) Expression of hepatitis B surface antigen in transgenic banana plants. Planta 222:484–493PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Liu Y, Roof S, Ye Z, Barry C, van Tuinen A, Vrebalov J, Bowler C, Giovannoni J (2004) Manipulation of light signal transduction as a means of modifying fruit nutritional quality in tomato. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:9897–9902PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Long M, Millar DJ, Kimura Y, Donovan G, Rees J, Fraser PD, Brameley PM, Bolwell GP (2006) Metabolite profiling of carotenoid and phenolic pathways in mutant and transgenic lines of tomato: identification of a high antioxidant fruit line. Phytochemistry (in press)Google Scholar
  24. Ma JK, Chikwamba R, Sparrow P, Fischer R, Mahoney R, Twyman RM (2005) Plant-derived pharmaceuticals-the road forward. Trends Plant Sci 10:580–585PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mehrtens F, Kranz H, Bednarek P, Weisshaar B (2005) The Arabidopsis transcription factor MYB12 is a flavonol-specific regulator of phenylpropanoid biosynthesis. Plant Physiol 138:1083–1096PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mustilli A, Fenzi F, Ciliento R, Alfano F, Bowler C (1999) Phenotype of the tomato high pigment-2 mutant is caused by a mutation in the tomato homolog of DEETIOLATED1. Plant Cell 11:145–157PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nakajima J, Tanaka I, Seo S, Yamazaki M, Saito S (2004) LC/PDA/ESI-MS profiling and radical scavenging activity of anthocyanins in various berries. J Biomed Biotech 5:241–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Niggeweg R, Michael AJ, Martin C (2004) Engineering plants with increased levels of the antioxidant chlorogenic acid. Nature Biotechnol 22:746–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Oksman-Caldentey K-M, Saito K (2005) Integrating genomics and metabolomics for engineering plant metabolic pathways. Curr Opin Biotechnol 16:174–179PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Paine JA, Shipton CA, Chaggar S, Howells RM, Kennedy MJ, Vernon G, Wright SY, Hinchliffe E, Adams JL, Silverstone AL, Drake R (2005) Improving the nutritional value of Golden Rice through increased pro-vitamin A content. Nat Biotechnol 23:482–487PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pepper A, Delaney T, Washburn T, Poole D, Chory J (1994) DET1, a negative regulator of light-mediated development and gene expression in arabidopsis, encodes a novel nuclear-localized protein. Cell 78:109–116PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Raskin I, Ribnicky DM, Komarnytsky S, Ilic N, Poulev A, Borisjuk N, Brinker A, Moreno DA, Ripoll C, Yakoby N, O’Neal JM, Cornwell T, Pastor I, Fridlender B (2002) Plants and human health in the twenty-first century. Trends Biotechnol 20:522–531PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Richter LJ, Thanavala Y, Arntzen CJ, Mason HS (2000) Production of hepatitis B surface antigen in transgenic plants for oral immunization. Nature Biotechnol 18:1167–1171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rischer H, Oksman-Caldentey KM (2006) Unintended effects in genetically modified crops: revealed by metabolomics? Trends Biotechnol 24:102–104PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Runge CF, Ryan B (2004) The Global Diffusion of Plant Biotechnology: International Adoption and Research in 2004. Report for the Council on Biotechnology Information, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  36. Schijlen EG, Ric de Vos CH, van Tunen AJ, Bovy AG (2004) Modification of flavonoid biosynthesis in crop plants. Phytochemistry 65:2631–2648PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Takagi H, Hiroi T, Yang L, Tada Y, Yuki Y, Takamura K, Ishimitsu R, Kawauchi H, Kiyono H, Takaiwa F (2005) A rice-based edible vaccine expressing multiple T cell epitopes induces oral tolerance for inhibition of Th2-mediated IgE responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:17525–17530PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tohge T, Matsui K, Ohme-Takagi M, Yamazaki M, Saito K (2005a) Enhanced radical scavenging activity of genetically modified Arabidopsis seeds. Biotechnol Lett 27:297–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tohge T, Nishiyama Y, Hirai MY, Yano M, Nakajima J, Awazuhara M, Inoue E, Takahashi H, Goodenowe DB, Kitayama M, Noji M, Yamazaki M, Saito K (2005b) Functional genomics by integrated analysis of metabolome and transcriptome of Arabidopsis plants over-expressing an MYB transcription factor. Plant J 42:218–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. World Health Organization (1967) Requirements of vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. In: Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Group. WHO technical Report Series No.362. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  41. Ye X, Al-Babili S, Kloti A, Zhang J, Lucca P, Beyer P, Potrykus I (2000) Engineering the provitamin A (beta-carotene) biosynthetic pathway into (carotenoid-free) rice endosperm. Science 287:303–305PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RIKEN Plant Science CenterTsurumi-kuJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Pharmaceutical SciencesChiba UniversityInage-kuJapan

Personalised recommendations