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, 90 (5), 1450-5

Transgenic Approaches for Cyanogen Reduction in Cassava

  • PMID: 17955993

Transgenic Approaches for Cyanogen Reduction in Cassava

Dimuth Siritunga et al. J AOAC Int.


For cassava to become a safe and acceptable crop, it is necessary to reduce the cyanogen levels in cassava foods. While this objective can be achieved by processing procedures, recent findings have shown that it is also possible to achieve it by suppression of cyanogen synthesis or by accelerating cyanogen turnover and volatilization. In 2003, cyanogen-free cultivars were generated by selective inhibition CYP79D1/D2 gene expression. The CYP79D1/D2 enzymes catalyze the first-dedicated step in cyanogen synthesis. Tissue-specific inhibition of CYP79D1/D2 expression in leaves lead to a 99% reduction in root cyanogen levels, indicating that the cyanogenic glycoside, linamarin, is synthesized in leaves and transported to roots. An alternative strategy to the reduce cyanogen content is to enhance cyanogen detoxification and cyanide volatilization during processing. This strategy has the advantage that cyanogen levels in unprocessed roots are not altered, potentially providing protection against herbivory andlor theft. To produce cultivars that promote rapid cyanide volatilization, hydroxynitrile lyase (HNL), which catalyzes the last step in cyanogenesis, was overexpressed in roots. Elevated HNL activity resulted in a 3-fold increase in the rate of cyanogen turnover. Importantly, the cyanogen content of the transformed and wild-type plants was identical, a potential benefit for farmers.

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