Biosynthesis of pyrimidine glucosides in faba beans – University of Copenhagen

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Copenhagen Plant Science Centre > Meet the Scientists > Fernando's group > Biosynthesis of pyrimi...

Biosynthesis of pyrimidine glucosides in faba beans

Faba beans are nitrogen-fixing legumes with great potential as protein crops in the Northern Hemisphere. In order to unleash their potential, new varieties with improved traits must be developed. One crucial trait to introduce is the absence of the pyrimidine glucosides vicine and convicine, both of which are toxic to the fraction of population that suffers from favism.

As part of the NORFAB consortium, we will elucidate the biosynthetic pathway towards the pyrimidine glucosides in faba beans, of which virtually nothing is known. Our work will provide breeders with genetic targets for the generation of pyrimidine glucoside-free varieties that are absolutely safe to commercialize. 

The biosynthetic pathway towards the pyrimidine glucosides vicine and convicine is unknown. We aim at the identification of all intermediates in the pathway (blue question marks) and the enzymes/genes that interconvert them (red arrows).

Inspecting faba bean varieties in the field at Sejet Plant Breeding in June 2016. From left to right: Sabine Ravnskov (Aarhus U), Alan Schulman (U Helsinki), Fred Stoddard (U Helsinki), Luc Janss (Aarhus U), Stig Andersen (Aarhus U), Henrik Skovgaard (Aarhus U), Jens Knudsen (Nordic Seed), Birger Eriksen (Sejet Plant Breeding).