Researchers from Rutgers University have discovered genetic regulators that
synthesize starch and protein in maize. The team discovered how corn starch
and protein are simultaneously synthesized in the endosperm, which could
allow them to find a good balance between nutrient quality and yield.
Domestication and modern breeding have gradually increased starch content in
corn, but decreased protein accumulation in endosperms.
The researchers looked at zeins, the key proteins found in corn kernels
which are devoid of lysine, an essential amino acid, resulting in poor
nutrient quality. People have increased lysine content in corn by growing
plants with lower zeins. Today, lysine levels are too low to meet the needs
of the world's rapidly growing population.
The molecular geneticists and corn breeders tried to reduce zein levels to
improve corn nutrient quality. They focused on blocking the zeins and the
so-called transcription factors. The research team found that two
transcription factors play key roles in regulating the synthesis of starch