The future of starch bioengineering: GM microorganisms or GM plants?

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  • Kim Hebelstrup
  • Domenico Sagnelli, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Andreas Blennow, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Plant starches regularly require extensive modification to permit subsequent applications. Such processing is usually done by the use of chemical and/or physical treatments. The use of recombinant enzymes produced by large-scale fermentation of GM microorganisms is increasingly used in starch processing and modification, sometimes as an alternative to chemical or physical treatments. However, as a means to impart the modifications as early as possible in the starch production chain, similar recombinant enzymes may also be expressed in planta in the developing starch storage organ such as in roots, tubers and cereal grains to provide a GM crop as an alternative to the use of enzymes from GM microorganisms. We here discuss these techniques in relation to important structural features and modifications of starches such as: starch phosphorylation, starch hydrolysis, chain transfer/branching and novel concepts of hybrid starch-based polysaccharides. In planta starch bioengineering is generally challenged by yield penalties and inefficient production of the desired product. However, in some situations, GM crops for starch bioengineering without deleterious effects have been achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number247
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • starch modification, biopharming, GM crops, starch phosphorylation, prebiotic, hybrid starch

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