US Scientists Discover Way to Create Protein Rich Corn

According to a new report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal, a team of scientists have discovered a way to genetically engineer corn to produce a type of amino acid that is found in meat.

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US Scientists Discover Way to Create Protein Rich Corn

Highlights

  1. Proteins are made of several smaller units known as amino acids
  2. Scientists have found a way to create corn with amino acids found in meat
  3. This discovery can help in producing a more nutritionally rich crop
Corn is one of the most widely produced grains in the United States and accounts for more than 95 percent of the total production and use. It is majorly used as a feed grain for livestock, but is also processed into various food products like cereal, alcohol, sweeteners and more. According to a new report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal, a team of scientists have discovered a way to genetically engineer corn to produce a type of amino acid that is found in meat. 

Proteins are made up of several smaller units known as amino acids that are linked to each other by peptide bonds, forming a long chain. According to the researchers, this discovery can help in producing a more nutritionally rich crop which can benefit millions of people in developing countries where corn is staple food. 

While conducting the experiments, they inserted a bacterial gene that causes corn to make methionine which is an important nutrient for skin, hair and nail health. The paper explains that the sulfur in methionine helps in protecting cells from pollutants, slowing down cell aging and is essential for absorbing minerals such as selenium and zinc
 

The scientists inserted an E. coli bacterial gene into the corn plant's genome. The E. coli enzyme led to the formation of methionine in the plant's leaves. It was noted that after the insertion the methionine in corn kernels increased by 57 percent. Moreover, the whole process did not affect plant growth. The jury is still out on whether genetically modified crops are safe for consumption or not. Thomas Leustek, professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Rutgers University, clarified that it might be possible to grow corn with amino acid without genetic engineering and more research is required to understand how this can be made possible. 

Inputs from AFP


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