High-level tryptophan accumulation in seeds of transgenic rice and its limited effects on agronomic traits and seed metabolite profile

J Exp Bot. 2006;57(12):3069-78. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erl068. Epub 2006 Aug 14.


Metabolic manipulation of plants to improve their nutritional quality is an important goal of plant biotechnology. Expression in rice (Oryza sativa L.) of a transgene (OASA1D) encoding a feedback-insensitive alpha subunit of rice anthranilate synthase results in the accumulation of tryptophan (Trp) in calli and leaves. It is shown here that the amount of free Trp in the seeds of such plants is increased by about two orders of magnitude compared with that in the seeds of wild-type plants. The total Trp content in the seeds of the transgenic plants was also increased. Two homozygous lines, HW1 and HW5, of OASA1D transgenic rice were generated for characterization of agronomic traits and aromatic metabolite profiling of seeds. The marked overproduction of Trp was stable in these lines under field conditions, although spikelet fertility and yield, as well as seed germination ability, were reduced compared with the wild type. These differences in agronomic traits were small, however, in HW5. In spite of the high Trp content in the seeds of the HW lines, metabolic profiling revealed no substantial changes in the amounts of other phenolic compounds. The amount of indole acetic acid was increased about 2-fold in the seeds of the transgenic lines. The establishment and characterization of these OASA1D transgenic lines have thus demonstrated the feasibility of increasing the Trp content in the seeds of rice (or of other crops) as a means of improving its nutritional value for human consumption or animal feed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthranilate Synthase / genetics
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Germination / genetics
  • Homozygote
  • Indoleacetic Acids / metabolism
  • Oryza / embryology
  • Oryza / genetics*
  • Oryza / growth & development
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / embryology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / growth & development
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism*
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / growth & development
  • Seeds / metabolism*
  • Transgenes / physiology
  • Tryptophan / metabolism*


  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Phenols
  • Protein Subunits
  • indoleacetic acid
  • Tryptophan
  • Anthranilate Synthase