Boosting the VITAMIN A in MAIZE
March 5, 2008
Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of eye disease and other health disorders in the developing world - Some 40 million children are afflicted with eye disease, and another 250 million suffer with health problems resulting from a lack of dietary vitamin A.

University of Illinois researcher Torbert Rocheford was a member of a team of plant geneticists and crop scientists that pioneered an economical approach to the selective breeding of maize that can boost levels of provitamin A, which the body converts to vitamin A.

It involves a new approach to selecting the parent stock for breeding maize, and significantly reduces the ambiguity and expense of finding varieties that yield the highest provitamin A content.

Current maize varieties eaten in Africa can have provitamin A content as low as 0.1 micrograms per gram. The study analyzed 300 genetic lines representative of the global diversity of maize, and identified some varieties that came close to the target amount of 15 micrograms provitamin A per gram.