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2-Plants: Non-GE corn with high-protein content has been bred in the U.S.

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TITLE:  UCR Biochemist Goes to Washington with High-Protein Corn
SOURCE: University of California - Riverside, USA, Press Release
DATE:   20 Sep 2005

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UCR Biochemist Goes to Washington with High-Protein Corn
Daniel Gallie's findings propose a useful approach to feed the world's
growing population

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Corn with twice its usual content of protein and oil
and about half its usual carbohydrate content is what Daniel Gallie,
professor of biochemistry, will present at a congressional seminar in
Washington, D.C., this week.

Because his research holds promise for efficiently feeding high-protein
corn to people and livestock all over the world, Gallie has been invited
to speak to an audience of congressional staff in the Longworth House
Office Building of the U.S. House of Representatives. His 45-minute
presentation is scheduled for 10 a.m., Sept. 23.

The National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research, a broad-based
coalition of agricultural producers, science societies and universities,
is sponsoring the seminar.

In the United States, the vast majority of corn - nearly 65 percent - is
used to feed animals for meat production. Much of the remainder is
exported to other countries for feeding animals or made into corn
sweeteners or fuel alcohol. Corn, the most widely produced feed grain in
the United States, accounts for more than 90 percent of total value and
production of feed grains in the country, with around 80 million acres of
land planted with corn.

Gallie's research on doubling the protein content of corn grain adds
significant value to the crop, benefiting corn producers. Moreover, his
technology nearly doubles corn oil, the most valuable content of corn
grain, and significantly increases the grain's value. Corn is processed
also into other food and industrial products such as starch, sweeteners,
beverage and industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol.

"Nearly 800 million people in the world suffer from protein-energy
malnutrition, which is a leading cause of death in children in developing
countries, many of which already produce corn as a major cereal crop,"
said Gallie. "A significant fraction of the world's population,
particularly in developing countries, has no access to meat as a protein
source, and has to rely on plant sources such as grain. The new corn we
have developed has two embryos in its kernel, which is what doubles the
content of protein and oil and reduces the starch content. It could
provide a good source of protein for those that depend on grain as their
primary source of nutrients."

Every corn kernel results from a flower on an ear of corn, Gallie
explained. Initially the ear produces a pair of flowers for every kernel.
But then one of the sister flowers undergoes abortion, resulting in one
flower for each kernel. Gallie's research group has developed technology
that essentially rescues the aborted flower, resulting in two kernels
that are fused together. "Despite the fusion, the kernels are not
bigger," Gallie said. "It's basically the same corn, except that it is
protein-rich and starch-poor - something that, if applied to sweet corn,
would appeal to a large number of weight-conscious people in this country
who are interested in low-carb diets and who normally avoid corn in their

Gallie and his colleagues published their work last year in The Plant
Journal. Though their research focused on feed corn, the technology can
easily be applied to sweet corn, a sugar-rich mutant strain of regular corn.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and
the California Agricultural Experiment Station funded the research.

Media interested in covering the event need to contact Brian Hyps at 301-
251-0560, ext. 114, or

Details of the study:

Flowers in the corn ear develop in pairs but one from each pair aborts
before pollination can occur. Because of the role cytokinin, a plant
hormone, plays in preventing organ death, Gallie's research group
introduced a gene that enabled production of cytokinin, thus rescuing the
flowers. The kernels produced from pairs of flowers fused into a single
normal-sized kernel that contained two embryos and a smaller endosperm,
the food storage tissue that provides nutrients to the developing embryo.
Because the embryo contains the majority of protein and oil, two embryos
in the kernel doubles the protein and oil content in corn grain. The
nutritional value of the grain improves also because the size of the
endosperm, which contains most of the carbohydrates, is reduced.

Brief biography of Daniel Gallie:

Daniel Gallie received his doctoral degree in 1985 from the University of
California, Davis. After completing postdoctoral studies at the John
Innes Institute in Norwich, England, and at Stanford University, he
joined UCR in 1990. During his career, Gallie has investigated the
regulation of protein synthesis, the function of heat stress proteins,
the control of cell death in plants, the role of plant hormones such as
ethylene and cytokinin during plant growth and development, and the
function of vitamin C in a plant's response to adverse environmental
conditions. Results from his group have been published in over 100 papers
and patents. He is a member of the American Society of Plant Biologists,
a professional society devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences.

Related Links

UCR Department of Biochemistry

National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research

American Society of Plant Biologists

Additional Contacts:

Brian Hyps, Amer. Soc. of Plant Biologists

Daniel Gallie

The University of California, Riverside is a major research institution
and a national center for the humanities. Key areas of research include
nanotechnology, genomics, environmental studies, digital arts and
sustainable growth and development. With a current undergraduate and
graduate enrollment of nearly 17,000, the campus is projected to grow to
21,000 students by 2010. Located in the heart of inland Southern
California, the nearly 1,200-acre, park-like campus is at the center of
the region's economic development. Visit or call 951-UCR-NEWS
for more information. Media sources are available at http:// Media

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