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Improved antioxidant content for food applications

Contract number : QLK1-2001-01080
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 3.184.942
EC contribution : € 2.381.021
Starting date : not yet determined
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Barend Verachtert
Project website : not yet available
Prof. Dr Uwe Sonnewald
Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Resarch
Molecular Cell Biology
Corrensstraße 3
06466 Gatersleben
Tel.: +49 394 825214
Fax: +49 394 825515
E-mail: sonnewald @

Flavonoids and phenolic acids are widely distributed in higher plants and form part of the human diet. Recent interest in these substances has strongly been stimulated by the potential health benefits arising from the antioxidant activity of these polyphenolic compounds. Although the protective effect of flavonoids against cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer is widely accepted, little is known about the different pharmacokinetic properties of individual groups of flavonoids. The aim of the proposal is to develop strategies to create tomato plants with elevated contents of flavonoids, to evaluate the biological properties of individual members, and to transfer the knowledge to additional crops including cereals. To achieve this goal, an interdisciplinary team has been put together with outstanding expertise in plant molecular physiology, genetics, biochemistry, nutritional and analytical biology, complemented by an SME as an active participant and responsible for the exploitation of the results obtained.


Plants produce an immense range of natural metabolites, many of which are of medical value. These metabolites exhibit antioxidative activities, due to the scavenging of reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species and may serve as antioxidants in plants themselves or in plant-derived components of the human diet, without being toxic or dangerous. The major objectives of the proposal are

  • to decipher the regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis,
  • the production of engineered plants tailored for the synthesis of phytoprotectants
  • the development of molecular and biochemical tools to assist plant breeding and to allow risk assessments of the engineered plants by carefully following metabolic changes in pathways not directly targeted by the genetic manipulation.

To reach these goals, existing concepts will be tested by altering expression of known genes (cardinal gene approach), Arabidopsis will be utilised to isolate novel genes (black box approach), and genetic resources of different tomato accessions will be exploited by transcriptional and metabolic profiling.


University Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III
24 Chemin de Borde-Rouge
Pôle de Biotechnologie Végétale
PO Box 117 Auzeville
31326 Castanet Tolosan
University of Cologne
Botanical Institute
Gyrhofstraße 15
50931 Köln
Plant Research International B.V.
Cell Cybernetics
Droevendaalsesteeg 1
PO Box 16
6700 AA Wageningen
The Netherlands
John Innes Centre
Department of Genetics
Norwich Research Park, Colney
NR4 7UH Norwish
United Kingdom
King's College London
Centre for Age-Related Diseases
Hodgkin Bldg
Guy's Hospital
St Thomas' Street
SE1 9RT London
United Kingdom
Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology
Am Mühlenberg 1
14424 Potsdam
Sungene GmbH & Co. KGaA
Corrensstraße 3
06466 Gatersleben

Fifth Framework Programme

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