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Biotechnological applications to increase health quality of sweet orange

Grant number: 14/12616-9
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: October 01, 2014 - July 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Food Science and Technology
Principal Investigator:Leandro Antonio Peña Garcia
Grantee:Leandro Antonio Peña Garcia
Host Institution: Fundo de Defesa da Citricultura (FUNDECITRUS). Araraquara , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers:Nelson Arno Wulff ; Viviani Vieira Marques


Brazil is the world's largest producer of oranges and uses more than 70% of the harvested fruit in the production of juices. Orange juices are considered very healthy and nutritious, because they are rich in vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and calcium, and also contain considerable levels of iron and zinc. Moreover, they contain phytochemicals such as carotenoids, terpenoids and flavonoids, which have been widely considered as health beneficial compounds. There are sweet orange mutants that accumulate moderate levels of lycopene in the fruit pulp. However, when the fruit is processed, most of it remains in the peel of the juice vesicles and very little goes to the juice. Additionally, these mutants require cultivation under rather warm temperatures to accumulate good levels of lycopene in the fruit. There are also sweet orange mutants that accumulate anthocyanins in the fruit, being purple and thus called blood oranges. These require warm temperatures during the day and cool temperatures at night to express the trait, but such conditions are very hard to find in Sao Paulo State. Furthermore, both types of mutants generally show low productivity and bad processing characteristics. Lycopene and anthocyanins have been associated with a lower risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Increasing the levels of those phytochemical in orange fruit of a readily known commercial variety through metabolic engineering could strengthen the fruit's health benefits. We have cloned the genes governing the accumulation of such compounds in the fruit of lycopene-rich and blood sweet orange mutants and characterized a strong and fruit-specific gene citrus promoter. This allows us proposing the following objectives for this project: i) Increasing the anthocyanin content in the fruit of commercial oranges, so that they show purple coloration regardless the environmental conditions of cultivation; ii) Increasing lycopene content in commercial orange, so that the extracted orange juice shows red color regardless of the environmental conditions; and iii) Evaluate the content of ²-carotene and other phytochemical compounds in oranges fruits from a genetically modified variety in which the expression of an endogenous ²-carotene hydroxylase gene has been blocked through RNA interference as well as in fruits from its respective control, all coming from field grown trees. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
CARMONA, LOURDES; ALQUEZAR, BERTA; MARQUES, VIVIANI V.; PENA, LEANDRO. Anthocyanin biosynthesis and accumulation in blood oranges during postharvest storage at different low temperatures. Food Chemistry, v. 237, p. 7-14, . (14/23447-3, 14/12616-9)
CARMONA, L.; ALQUEZAR, B.; TARRAGA, S.; PENA, L.. Protein analysis of moro blood orange pulp during storage at low temperatures. Food Chemistry, v. 277, p. 75-83, . (14/23447-3, 14/12616-9)
CARMONA, LOURDES; ALQUEZAR, BERTA; DIRETTO, GIANFRANCO; SEVI, FILIPPO; MALARA, TATIANE; LAFUENTE, M. TERESA; PENA, LEANDRO. Curing and low-temperature combined post-harvest storage enhances anthocyanin biosynthesis in blood oranges. Food Chemistry, v. 342, . (14/23447-3, 14/12616-9)

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