Genetic engineering of beta-glucan contents of oats

Anneli Ritala, Marjatta Salmenkallio-Marttila, Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey, Tapani Suortti, Alan Schulman, Anna-Maria Nuutila

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsScientific


    Finland is one of the major oat (Avena sativa L.) producers, holding approximately a 20% share of the worldwide oat trade. The health benefits of oats are mainly associated with its mixed beta-glucan. Mixed beta-glucan is not metabolised by digestive enzymes and lowers the cholesterol levels of blood and balances the glucose and insulin contents of serum after meals. These physiological effects reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases. Our aim is to increase the beta-glucan content of Finnish oats through genetic engineering. The ultimate aim is to use plant-derived genes to elevate the beta-glucan content of oats to levels not obtainable through traditional plant breeding methods. The induction of embryogenic cell cultures from mature embryos of oat cultivars Aslak, Veli and Kolbu was performed according to Somers et al. (1992). Calcofluor staining (Salmenkallio-Marttila et al. 2002) and HPLC-analysis (Suortti 1993) of beta-glucan of seeds, apical meristems and cell cultures were carried out. Gene transfer of microbial 1,3-beta-glucan synthases (Inoue et al. 1995) was accomplished by using particle bombardment (Bio-Rad, PDS-1000/He) according to Wan & Lemaux (1994). The beta-glucan was mainly localized in subaleurone layers of oat seeds by Calcofluor staining. The molecular weight of oat seed 13-glucan was ca. 2 000 000 and the amount varied from 40 to 60 g/kg. In apical meristems trace amounts of beta-glucan were observed. In cell cultures the molecular weight of the beta-glucan was ca. 200 000 and the amount varied from 2 to 3 g/kg. Gene transfer experiments with microbial 1,3-beta-glucan synthase genes have been started in order to evaluate their effect on beta-glucan contents of oat cell lines. The cloning of plant beta-glucan synthase genes is on the way. Inoue et al. 1995. European Journal of Biochemistry 231: 845-854; Salmenkallio-Marttila et al. 2002. Cereal Chemistry 78: 429-435.; Somers et al. 1992. Bio/Technology 10: 1589-1594; Suortti 1993. Journal of Chromatography 632: 105-110; Wan & Lemaux 1994. Plant Physiology 104: 37-48.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th International Oat Conference. Helsinki, Finland, 2004
    EditorsPirjo Peltonen-Sainio, Mari Topi-Hulmi
    PublisherNatural Resources Institute Finland
    Number of pages1
    ISBN (Electronic)951-729-880-3
    ISBN (Print)951-729-879-X
    Publication statusPublished - 2004
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible

    Publication series

    SeriesAgrifood Research Reports


    • oat
    • beta-glucan
    • beta-glucan synthase
    • transgenic
    • cell culture


    Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic engineering of beta-glucan contents of oats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this