Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Legume engineering

Legumes such as peas and faba beans are rich sources of carbohydrate and protein for humans and animals. Grain legumes are also becoming preferred bioreactors for the production (by genetic engineering) of new products for different uses such as foods, pharmaceuticals, industrial enzymes, etc. Three groups (in Germany, Great Britain, France) have joined together in a project entitled 'Understanding nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism for legume engineering (UNCLE) in order to make 'full use' of European grain legumes. The project deals with the following areas: analysis of the capacity of peas and faba beans to accumulate storage products (seed sink capacity) such as carbohydrates; analysis of the relationship between carbohydrate and storage (protein/nitrogen) metabolism at the level of gene expression; isolation and evaluation of promoters for temporally and spatially regulated gene expression in seeds; use of these promoters, in combination with existing and new gene sequences, to specifically change sink capacity and/or storage product composition in legume seeds. Research on all of these aspects is well underway. For example, a high hexose sugar to sucrose ratio during early seed development is determined by a cell wall-bound invertase enzyme in the seed coat. This partly explains the important role of the seed coat for seed development and sink strength. Another important finding is that the double mutant rrrbrb pea line had the most profound reduction in the constituent legumin. Protein from such a line would have different functional properties than that from wild-type peas and could have potential in extruded meat-free products.

Reported by

Institut fuer Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung (IPK)
06466 Gatersleben
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