Marker-Assisted Breeding for Enrichment of Provitamin A in Maize

  • Hari Shanker Gupta
  • Firoz Hossain
  • Vignesh Muthusamy
  • Rajkumar Uttamrao Zunjare


Despite impressive growth in food production that led to increased availability of food grains; malnutrition continues to hangout as the most important health problem especially in the developing and underdeveloped countries. Amongst various components of nutrition, deficiency of micronutrient has turned out to be a major cause of malnutrition resulting in enormous economic loss. Various methods have although been tried to supplement micronutrients in human diet, biofortification of staple food crops has turned out to be robust, cost-effective as well as safe way of delivering micronutrients. Vitamin-A plays vital role in vision and metabolism, and is required to be supplemented through diet as it is not manufactured inside human body. White maize, an important cereal widely used as food and feed, lacks provitamin A (proA)-the precursor for vitamin A. Also, yellow maize contains very low level of proA. The present article attempts to provide an overview of the research efforts made in enriching maize kernels with proA. Characterisation of carotenoid metabolic pathway indicates critical role of phytoene synthase1 (psy1), lycopene epsilon cyclase (lcyE) and β-carotene hydroxylase (crtRB1) in accumulation of proA and hence, introgression of favourable alleles of these genes (through molecular marker-assisted selection), results in accumulation of proA up to 20 μg/g in freshly harvested kernels as compared to 0.2–2 μg/g in traditional yellow kernel maize. Studies on post harvest retention and bioavailability of proA indicate 200 g/day consumption of proA- rich maize can supply approximately 50% of recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A. Consumer acceptance and nutritional impact of carotenoid-rich maize on human and poultry have also been discussed.


Zea mays L. β-carotene Biofortification Genetic engineering Marker-assisted selection 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hari Shanker Gupta
    • 1
  • Firoz Hossain
    • 1
  • Vignesh Muthusamy
    • 1
  • Rajkumar Uttamrao Zunjare
    • 1
  1. 1.ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia

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