Five CIMMYT scientists are co-authors of a new report published this week in Nature Genetics. In “Rare genetic variation at Zea mays crtRB1 increases ß-carotene in maize grain,” the research team describes a rare genetic variation in maize that leads to increased beta-carotene in maize grain, which is the main source of dietary vitamin A.
According to a SciDev.net article, “Poor people in many developing countries depend on cheap foods such as maize that do not provide enough vitamin A. In Zambia, more than half (53 per cent) of children do not get sufficient vitamin A, and the WHO estimates that up to 500,000 children worldwide are blinded each year by the deficiency, and half of them die of related causes within a year.”
It is believed that new strains of maize with increased beta-carotene could reduce vitamin A deficiency in people in developing countries. The CIMMYT staff involved with this publication include Jianbing Yan, Maria Zaharieva, Raman Babu, Natalia Palacios, and Marilyn L Warburton.