Partner 1: Royal Holloway University of London
Partner 2: Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Partner 3: Italian National Agency for New Technologies
Partner 4: Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI)
Partner 5: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Partner 6: Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg
Partner 7: Metapontum Agrobios
Partner 8: PROPLANTA

Partner 1: Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL), Egham, UK

Description of Organisation. RHUL is within the top 10 universities in the UK with an international reputation for the highest quality teaching and research across the sciences, arts and humanities. The School of Biological Sciences is ranked joint 3rd in the UK.

Role and contribution to the project. Coordinator, WP1 leader, Member of the Innovation and Exploitation Panel, involved in WP1, WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5.

Expertise. Dr Paul. D. Fraser will lead the RHUL scientific team and act as the project coordinator. He has over 20 years' experience working both in academia and industry within the UK and abroad. During this period Dr Fraser has worked on the analysis, biosynthesis, regulation and metabolic engineering of carotenoids and isoprenoids, both in plant and microbial systems. Other group members involved in the project include: Prof. Peter M. Bramley, Dr Eugenia Enfissi, Miss Cara Mortimer and Mr Chris Gerrish.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Fraser, P.D., Roemer, S., Cathie A. Shipton, Phillippa B. Mills, Joy W. Kiano, Norihiko Misawa, Rachel G. Drake, Wolfgang Schuch and Peter M. Bramley. (2002). Biochemical evaluation of transgenic Tomato plants expressing an additional phytoene synthase in a fruit-specific manner. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 99, 1092-1097.

2. Ralley L., Enfissi, E.M., Misawa, N., Schuch W., Bramley P.M., and Fraser, P.D. (2004). Metabolic engineering of ketocarotenoid synthesis in higher plants. Plant J., 39, 477-486.

3. Davuluri, G.R., van Tuinen, A., Fraser, P.D., Manfredonia, A., Newman, R., Burgess, D., Brummell, D.A., King, S.R., Palys, J., Uhlig, J., Bramley, P.M., Pennings, H.M.J., Bowler, C. (2005). Fruit-specific RNAi-mediated suppression of DET1 enhances tomato nutritional quality. Nat. Biotechnol., 23, 890-895.

4. Fraser, P.D. Enfissi, E.M.A., Goodfellow, M., Eguchi, T., Bramley, P.M. (2007). Metabolite Profiling of Plant Carotenoids Using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry, Plant J., 49, (3), 552-564.

5. Fraser, P.D., Enfiissi, E.M.A., Halket, J.M., Truesdale, M.R., Dongmei, Yu, Gerrish, C. Bramley, P.M. (2007). Manipulation of Phytoene levels in Tomato Fruit: Effects on Isoprenoids, Plastids and Intermediary Metabolism. Plant Cell, 19, 3194-3211.

Partner 2: Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPIMP), Potsdam, Germany


Description of Organisation. The MPIMP, founded in 1994, is one of the largest plant research institutes in Europe. It contains over 20 research groups organized in three departments and has more than 300 researchers. Its mission is a system-oriented analysis of the uptake, synthesis, transport and storage of plant metabolites. The institute has large facilities for plant growth under controlled environmental conditions and is well equipped for a wide spectrum of modern techniques and analytical platforms for plant research, including transcript profiling, proteomics, metabolite profiling and genetic engineering.

Role and contribution to the project. WP5 leader, WP1, WP2, WP3, and WP5.

Expertise. Prof. Dr. Ralph Bock is the Director of MPIMP and will lead the MPIMP scientific team. He possesses over 20 years experience in plant biology and biotechnology research. He and his laboratory have performed pioneering work in plastid chloroplast genetic engineering and developed (and patented) plastid transformation in tomato. Prof. Bock acts as an expert for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to establish guidelines for risk assessment of genetically modified crops in the EC. Other group members involved in the project include: Dr Stephanie Ruf, Miss Claudia Hasse, Dr Sabine Kahlau, Dr. Yinghong Lu, and Miss Wiebke Apel.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Wurbs, D., Ruf, S. and Bock, R. (2007). Contained metabolic engineering in tomatoes by expression of carotenoid biosynthesis genes from the plastid genome. Plant J., 49, 276-288.

2. Ruf, S., Karcher, D. and Bock, R. (2007). Determining the transgene containment level provided by chloroplast transformation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 104, 6998-7002.

3. Bock, R. (2007). Plastid biotechnology: prospects for herbicide and insect resistance, metabolic engineering and molecular farming. Curr. Op. Biotechnol., 18, 100-106.

4. Zhou, F., Karcher, D. and Bock, R. (2007). Identification of a plastid Intercistronic Expression Element (IEE) facilitating the expression of stable translatable monocistronic mRNAs from operons. Plant J., 52, 961-972.

5. Kahlau, S. and Bock, R. (2008). Plastid transcriptomics and translatomics of tomato fruit development and chloroplast-to-chromoplast differentiation:Chromoplast gene expression largely serves the production of a single protein. Plant Cell, 20, 856-874.

Partner 3: Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Enviroment (ENEA), Rome, Italy


Description of Organisation. ENEA is the second research organization in Italy. It is organized in four Departments. The Biotechnology Dept of ENEA is implementing vigorous research programs in biomedicine, biofuels (plant and algal-derived), plant genomics, metabolic engineering and metabolomics. The group is fully equipped with labs and contained greenhouses for plant transformation, custom microarray design and analysis, high throughput (Sanger, 454) DNA sequencing and LC-MSn (Orbitrap) metabolic profiling. ENEA has a strong computing Dept. equipped with a 24-TFlop supercomputer, classified among the 500 top supercomputers worldwide and accessible for bioinformatics applications.

Role and contribution to the project. Deputy coordinator and member of the Innovation and Exploitation Panel, WP1, WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5.

Expertise. Prof. Giovanni Giuliano, Research Director, has over 20 years' experience in plant biochemistry and molecular biology, particularly in the fields of plant genomics, carotenoid biosynthesis and metabolic engineering. He is the coordinator of the Italian tomato genome sequencing project and of the international effort to construct a tomato Affymetrix microarray. He has participated in 8 successful EC research projects from FP2 to FP6, of which two, Carotene Plus (FP4) and ProVitA (FP5) were coordinated by Prof. Giuliano. Other group members involved in the project include Dr. Gianfranco Diretto, Dr. Raffaela Tavazza, Dr. Carlo Rosati, Dr. Gaetano Perrotta, Dr. Alessia Fiore, Mrs. Patrizia Pallara, Dr. Roberto Ciccoli, Dr. Federico Scossa and Mrs. Velia Papacchioli.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Diretto G., Al-Babili S., Tavazza R., Papacchioli V., Beyer P., Giuliano G. (2007) Metabolic engineering of potato carotenoid content through tuber-specific overexpression of a bacterial mini-pathway. Plos ONE, 2, e350.

2. D’Agostino N., Pizzichini D., Chiusano M.L., Giuliano G. (2007) An EST database from saffron stigmas. BMC Plant Biology, 7, 53.

3. Dall'Osto L., Fiore A., Cazzaniga S., Giuliano G., Bassi R. (2007) Different roles of alpha- and beta-branch xanthophylls in photosystem assembly and photoprotection. J. Biol. Chem, 282, 35056-68.

4. Giuliano G., Diretto, G. (2007) Of chromoplasts and chaperones. Trends Plant Sci., 12, 530-531.

5. Giuliano G., Tavazza R., Diretto G., Beyer P., Taylor, M.A. (2008) Metabolic engineering of carotenoid biosynthesis in plants. Trends Biotechnol., 26, 139-145.

Partner 4: Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), Dundee, UK


Description of Organisation. The SCRI is the major plant and crop science institute in Scotland and is a government research Centre of Excellence, employing over 400 permanent and visiting workers. The SCRI has the infrastructure to deliver its role within this project, with excellent transgenic, glasshouse and field facilities as well as housing several state-of-the-art analytical platforms for metabolite and transcript analyses and a state-of-the-art Imaging Centre equipped with a broad range of sample preparation and imaging facilities including confocal and electron microscopes (such as an advanced JEM 1400 Transmission Electron Microscope). SCRI is well known for its wide-ranging research in potato and houses extensive potato genetic resources in the Commonwealth Potato Collection.

Role and contribution to the project. WP2 leader, member of the Innovation and Exploiation Panel. WP1, WP2, WP3, WP4, and WP5.

Expertise. Dr Mark A. Taylor will lead the SCRI scientific team. He has over 20 years' experience working on plant science with a focus on potato metabolism and development. He is Principal Investigator in a major Scottish Government funded programme on potato genetics focusing on the molecular dissection of quality traits. He employs a wide range of techniques in his research including functional genomics and the development of transgenic models. His research is co-funded by the UK potato industry, Royal Society and Food Standards Agency. Other group members involved in the project include. Mr Phil Taylor, Head of Communications at SCRI, Dr Alison Roberts, Dr Gavin Ramsay and Dr Derek Stewart.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Ducrecx, L.J.M, Morris W.L., Prosser I.M., Morris, J.A., Beale M.H., Wright F., Shepherd T., Bryan G.J., Hedley P.E., Taylor M.A. 2008. Expression profiling of potato germplasm differentiated in quality traits leads to the identification of candidate flavour and texture genes. J. of Exp. Bot. (in press)

2. Chapman, S.N., Faulkner, C., Kaiserli, E., Garcia-Mata, C., Savenkov, E.I., Roberts, A.G., Oparka, K.J. and Christie, J.M. (2008). iLOV: A photoreversible fluorescent protein that outperforms GFP as a reporter of plant virus infection. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., (in press)

3. Giuliano, G., Tavazza, R., Diretto, G., Beyer, P. and Taylor, M. (2008). Metabolic engineering of carotenoid biosynthesis in higher plants. Trends in Biotechnol., 26, 139-145

4. Morris, W.L., DucrECx, L.J.M., Fraser, P.D., Millam, S. and Taylor, M.A. (2006) Engineering ketocarotenoid biosynthesis in potato tubers. Metabolic Engineering, 8, 253-263

5. Ducreux, L.J.M., Morris, W.L., Hedley, P.E., Shepherd, T., Davies, H.V., Millam, S., Taylor, M.A. (2005). Metabolic engineering of high carotenoid potato tubers containing enhanced levels of β-carotene and lutein. J. of Exp. Bot., 56, 81-89.

Partner 5: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI), Jerusalem, Israel


Description of Organisation. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been ranked 64th among the world’s 100 top universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2007 issued by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, and it has been ranked by Newsweek Magazine as one of the 100 most outstanding academic institutions in the world in 2006. HU is the largest University in Israel. Nearly 33% of all civilian scientific research in Israel is conducted at the HU which runs 30% of the national competitive research grants. About 3,000 research projects are in progress at the University, 16% of them find application in high-tech industry. More that 2,600 doctoral candidates, which comprise 25% of all doctoral candidates in Israel, are enrolled at HU.

Role and contribution to the project. WP3 leader, WP1, WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5.

Expertise. Prof. Joseph Hirschberg has more than 25 years experience of academic research in the fields of plant molecular biology and plant biochemistry. He is an expert in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway. Prof. Hirschberg has published extensively in the carotenoid field in high impact journals and holds a family of patents relating to tools for engineering isoprenoid/carotenoid formation. Other group members involved in the project include: Dr Varda Mann and Dr Tal Isaacson.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Mann, V., Harker, M., Pecker, I. and Hirschberg, J. (2000) Metabolic engineering of astaxanthin production in tobacco flowers. Nature Biotechnol. 18: 888-892.

2. Ronen, G., Carmel-Goren, L., Zamir, D. and Hirschberg, J. (2000) An alternative pathway to beta-carotene formation in plant chromoplasts discovered by map-based cloning of Beta (B) and old-gold (og) color mutations in tomato, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 97: 11102-11107.

3. Isaacson, T., Ronen, G., Zamir D. and Hirschberg, J. (2002) Cloning of tangerine from tomato reveals a carotenoid isomerase essential for production of _-carotene and xanthophylls in plants. Plant Cell, 14: 333-342.

4. Galpaz, N., Ronen, G., Khalfa, Zamir, D., and Hirschberg, J. (2006) A chromoplast-specific carotenoid biosynthesis pathway is revealed by cloning of the tomato white-flower locus. Plant Cell 18: 1947-1960.

5. Galpaz, R., Wang, Q., Menda, N., Zamir, D. and Hirschberg, J. (2008) Abscisic acid deficiency in the tomato mutant high-pigment 3 (hp3) leading to increased plastid number and higher fruit lycopene. Plant J., 58, 717-730.

Partner 6: Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg (ALU-FB), Germany


Description of Organisation. The Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg is among the top nine German universities selected in the Initiative for Excellence of the German Federal and State Governments for the Promotion of Science and Research at German Universities in 2006/07.

Role and contribution to the project. Member of the Innovation and Exploitation Panel, WP1, WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5.

Expertise. Prof. Peter Beyer has over 30 years experience working on the biochemistry, regulation and metabolic engineering of carotenoid biosynthesis and catabolism. Prof. Beyer is the co-inventor of Golden Rice and the Principal investigator of the ProVitaMin Rice consortium funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Many awards have been bestowed on Prof. Beyer including the “Pro ECropa” European Award for culture in Science (Berlin 2002) and he has been voted jointly with his collaborator Prof. Potrykus “the most notable personalities in the areas of agricultural, environmental and industrial biotechnology” by readers of Nature Biotechnology on the occasion of the journal's 10th anniversary. Other group members involved in the project include: Dr. Salim Al-Babili and Ralf Welsch.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Kloer, D.P., Ruch, S., Al-Babili, S. Beyer, P. and Schulz, G.E. (2005) The structure of a retinal-forming carotenoid oxygenase. Science. 308:267-269.

2. Diretto, G., Al-Babili, S., Tavazza, R., Papacchioli, V., Beyer, P. and Giuliano, G. (2007) Metabolic engineering of potato carotenoid content through tuber-specific overexpression of a bacterial mini-pathway , Plos ONE 2, e350

3. Kloer, D.P., Welsch, R., Beyer, P., and Schulz, G.E., (2006). Structure and reaction geometry of geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase from Sinapis alba. Biochemistry 45 (51), 15197-15204.

4. Welsch, R., Maas, D., Voegel, T., DellaPenna, D., Beyer, P. (2007). Transcription factor RAP2.2 and its interacting partner SINAT2: Stable elements in the carotenogenesis of Arabidopsis leaves. Plant Physiol., 145 (3), 1073-1085.

5. Welsch, R., Wust, F., Bar, C., Al-Babili, S., and Beyer, P. (2008). A third phytoene synthase is devoted to abiotic stress-induced abscisic acid formation in rice and defines functional diversification of phytoene synthase genes. Plant Physiol., 147, 367-380.

Partner 7: Metapontum Agrobios (MA), Metaponto, Italy


Description of Organisation. Metapontum Agrobios was established in 1985. The company is devoted to research, development and technology transfer to agricultural and Agroindustry system. The centre has fully equipped molecular, cellular biology and analytical chemistry facilities as well as an agronomic department overseeing 5,400 sqm of insect-proof greenhouse and 5ha of experimental fields. The chemistry department is accredited by SINAL in compliance with ISO CEI EN/IEC 17025. The company has a staff of 62 researchers and 6 administrative employees.

Role and contribution to the project. Member of the Innovation and Exploiation Panel (IEP), WP1, WP2 and WP5.

Expertise. Dr Giovanni Giorio, a senior research scientist with more than 20 year’s experience in the field of plant genetics and biotechnology will lead P7’s scientific team. He has worked for several years on molecular markers and quantitative genetics in important crop species. Over the last decade Dr Giorio has focussed on the genetic engineering of carotenoid in tomato. Dr Caterina D’Ambrosio is a senior research scientist and the leader of the Cell Biology Research Unit of Metapontum Agrobios. Other group members involved in the project include: Dr. A.L. Stigliani, Mr G. Festa, Miss G. Sozio and Dr Giovanna Lavecchia.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Giorio, G., Stigliani, A.L., D’Ambrosio, C. (2008). Phytoene synthase genes in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.)-new data on the structures, the deduced amino acid sequences and the expression patterns. FEBS J., 275 (3):527-535.

2. Giorio, G., Stigliani, A.L., D’Ambrosio, C. (2007). Agronomic performances and transcriptional analysis of carotenoid biosynthesis in fruits of transgenic HighCaro and control tomato lines in open field conditions. Trans. Res., 16 (1): 15-28.

3. Schmitz, G., Tillmann, E., Carriero, F., Fiore, C., Cellini, F., Theres, K. (2002). The tomato Blind gene encodes a MYB transcription factor that controls the formation of lateral meristems. Pro. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 99, 1064-1069.

4. Cellini, F., Chesson, A., Colquhoun, I., constable, A., Davies, H.V., Engel, K.H., Gatehouse, A.M.R., Karenlampi, S., Kok, E.J., Leguay, J.J., Lehesranta, s., Noteborn, H.P.J.M., Pedersen, J. and Smith, M. (2004). Uninteneded effects and their detection in genetically modified crops. Food and Chem. Tox., 42, 1089 – 1125.

5. D’Ambrosio, C., Giorio, G., Marino, I., Merendino, A., Petrozza, A., Salfi, L., Stigliani, A.,l., and Cellini, F. (2004). Virtually complete conversion of lycopene into -carotene in fruits of tomato plants transformed with the tomato lycopene -cyclase (tlcy-)cDNA. Plant Sci., 166, 207- -214.

Partner 8: PROPLANTA (PRO), Cluj-Napoca, Romania


Description of Organisation. PROPLANTA Ltd. is an independent private SME which was created in 2000 and located Romania. The operation has research-technology development and production activities in the field of agrifood (bio) technologies and plant derived natural products. Proplanta’s production (pilot unit) and Laboratories are located on the campus of the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (UASVM) Cluj-Napoca. UASVM is an established centre for teaching and research in Romania.

Role and contribution to the project. Member of the Innovation and Exploitation Panel (IEP), WP4 leader, WP1, WP2, WP4.

Expertise. Prof. Carmen Socaciu is the founder and present scientific director at Proplanta. The main activity of Proplanta is in the research and biotechnology development of bioactive food, phytocosmetic ingredients, additives, and supplements from plants sources using minimal environmentally friendly approaches. The chemical analysis of plant products is also carried out. In addition, PROPLANTA develops partnerships with other universities, research institutes from Romania, with EU Universities, Research Institutes, and Technology Transfer Centers across Europe or SMEs. Prof. Socaciu has coordinated more than 15 national research programmes over last 10 years, in the field of natural products, has been the author of eight books, as well as 138 articles in international and national journals. Prof Socacaiu is the Vice-president of the Romanian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as well as being an international Editor on the Board of the Journal of Central European Agriculture. Other group members involved in the project include: Dr Mihai Socaciu, Dr Dr Alina Nicula, and Mrs Anca Baciu.

Selected relevant publications.

1. Shafaa, M.W.I., Diehl, H.A., and Socaciu, C. (2007). The solubilisation pattern of lutein, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin and -carotene differ characteristically in and retinal liposomes, liver microsomes epithelial cells. Biophysical Chem. 129, 111-119.

2. Kumar, A., Dragan, S., Ursoniu, S., Socaciu, C., Gergen, I. (2007). Impact of functional foods enriched with bioactive antioxidant multi-components on oxidative stress in breast cancer patients. Annals of Nutrition and metabolism, 51, 154 Suppl 1.

3. Andjelkovic, M., Van Camp, J., De MEClenaer, B., Depaemelaere, G., Socaciu, C., Verloo, M., Verhe, R. (2006). Iron-chelation properties of phenolic acids bearing catechol and galloyl groups. Food Chemistry, 98, 23-31.