Carotenoids pp 99-114 | Cite as

Genetic Manipulation of Carotenoid Content and Composition in Crop Plants

  • Paul D. Fraser
  • Peter M. Bramley
Part of the Carotenoids book series (CAROT, volume 5)


Over the past 50 years, modern plant breeding has focused on improved productivity, through increased yield and adaptation to biotic and abiotic stress. In comparison, the enhancement of quality traits such as improved nutritional content and aesthetic colour has been neglected. Now, however, consumers increasingly demand improved food quality and safety and, as a consequence, plant breeding has been forced to address these issues. One example of this is to enhance the levels and types of carotenoids in fruits and vegetables, not only for aesthetic purposes, but also because of the increasing evidence that fruit and vegetables containing high levels of dietary carotenoids are associated with health benefits [1]; such crops are sometimes categorized as ‘functional foods’ [2]. The value of carotenoids to human health is supported by a significant body of evidence, as discussed in later chapters in this Volume, much of it based on associations between dietary carotenoids and risk of the onset of chronic disease states. β-Carotene (3) is the most potent precursor of vitamin A, deficiency of which will cause blindness and eventually death [3]. The xanthophylls zeaxanthin (119) and lutein (133) have been associated with reduced risk of macular degeneration [4], whilst lycopene (31) is associated with the reduction of certain cancers such as prostate cancer [5]. Astaxanthin (404–406) has more recently received attention as a carotenoid that may confer preventative effects against cardiovascular disease [6]. The most advantageous effects of carotenoids on health occur when they are eaten in a fruit or vegetable matrix [7], presumably because of synergistic effects with the other healthpromoting phytochemicals present in the food.


Genetically Modify Tomato Fruit Carotenoid Content Ripe Fruit Carotenoid Biosynthesis 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul D. Fraser
    • 1
  • Peter M. Bramley
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Systems and Synthetic Biology School of Biological SciencesRoyal Holloway University of LondonEgham SurreyUK

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