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Humanitarian Board Member Prof Peter Beyer


Dept of Cell Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany

Peter Beyer
Peter is one of the inventors of Golden Rice, together with Ingo Potrykus. He has dedicated a great deal of his professional career to understanding carotenoid biosynthesis in plants. The acquired experience in the field of carotenoids provided him with the necessary toolkit and mechanistic knowledge required to reconstruct the β-carotene biosynthetic pathway within the rice grain.

Born 1952 in Hannover, Germany.

1971-1977 Studies in Biology (Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Macromolecular Chemistry) at the Universities of Marburg and Freiburg, Germany.

1981 PhD in Cell Biology.

1982-2000 Assistant Professor at the Univ of Freiburg; habilitation and venia legendi (requirements to become a professor in Germany).

Peter is a Professor at the Department of Cell Biology at the Centre for Applied Biosciences (Zentrum für Angewandte Biowissenschaften) of the University of Freiburg, Germany, where he heads a research group working on the biochemistry, molecular biology and regulation of the plant prenyl-lipid metabolism (sterols, vitamins E and K, carotenoids) with emphasis on the biosynthesis of carotenoids. Besides basic science the group focuses strongly on applied pathway engineering to improve the nutritional value of crop plants.

Peter is the author of about 70 original research articles and, together with Ingo Potrykus, a co-inventor of Golden Rice. Peter and Ingo both share the mission and vision to promote the use of the Golden Rice technology and to share it freely with resource-poor farmers in the developing world.

Awards: “ProEuropa” European Award for Culture in Science, Berlin, 2002.

Starting 2005 Peter became the Principal Investigator in the ProVitaMinRice Consortium, a program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and one of the selected Grand Challenges in Global Health projects. The project «Engineering Rice for High Beta-Carotene, Vitamin E and Enhanced Iron and Zinc Bioavailability», designed to further biofortify Golden Rice with other vital micronutrients, will take five years and has been awarded US$11.3 miilion to achieve its goals. Research is handled by a consortium of seven laboratories in a number of countries. Apart from Peter's laboratory at the University of Freiburg, the project involves groups from Baylor College of Medicine (Texas), Michigan State University, the International Rice Research Institute and PhilRice (the Philippines), the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute (Vietnam), and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


  • Al-Babili S, Beyer P (2005) Golden Rice — Five years on the road — five years to go? Trends in Plant Science 10:565-573.pdf
  • Al-Babili S, Hugueney P, Schledz M, Welsch R, Frohnmeyer H, Laule O, Beyer P (2000) Identification of a novel gene coding for neoxanthin synthase from Solanum tuberosum. FEBS Lett 485:168-172.
  • Al-Babili S, von Lintig J, Haubruck H, Beyer P (1996) A novel, soluble form of phytoene desaturase from Narcissus pseudonarcissus chromoplasts is Hsp70-complexed and competent for flavinylation, membrane association and enzymatic activation. Plant J 9:601-612.
  • Al-Babili S, Ye X, Lucca P, Potrykus I, Beyer P (2001) Biosynthesis of beta-carotene (provitamin A) in rice endosperm achieved by genetic engineering. Novartis Found Symp 236:219-28; discussion 228-232.
  • Bartley G, Kumle A, Beyer P, Scolnik P (1993) Functional analysis and purification of enzymes for carotenoid biosynthesis expressed in photosynthetic bacteria. Methods Enzymol 214:374-385.
  • Bartley GE, Scolnik PA, Beyer P (1999) Two Arabidopsis thaliana carotene desaturases, phytoene desaturase and ζ-carotene desaturase, expressed in Escherichia coli, catalyze a poly-cis pathway to yield pro-lycopene. Eur J Biochem 259:396-403.
  • Belingheri L, Beyer P, Kleinig H, Gleizes M (1991) Solubilization and partial purification of squalene synthase from daffodil microsomal membranes. FEBS Lett 292:34-36.
  • Beyer P, Al-Babili S, Ye X, Lucca P, Schaub P, Welsch R, Potrykus I (2002) Golden Rice: Introducing the β-carotene biosynthesis pathway into rice endosperm by genetic engineering to defeat vitamin A deficiency. J Nutr 132:506S-510.
  • Beyer P, Kroncke U, Nievelstein V (1991) On the mechanism of the lycopene isomerase/cyclase reaction in Narcissus pseudonarcissus L chromoplasts. J Biol Chem 266:17072-17078.
  • Beyer P, Mayer M, Kleinig H (1989) Molecular oxygen and the state of geometric isomerism of intermediates are essential in the carotene desaturation and cyclization reactions in daffodil chromoplasts. Eur J Biochem 184:141-150.
  • Bonk M, Hoffmann B, Von Lintig J, Schledz M, Al-Babili S, Hobeika E, Kleinig H, Beyer P (1997) Chloroplast import of four carotenoid iosynthetic enzymes in vitro reveals differential fates prior to membrane binding and oligomeric assembly. Eur. J. Biochem. 247:942-950.
  • Bonk M, Tadros M, Vandekerckhove J, Al-Babili S, Beyer P (1996) Purification and characterization of chaperonin 60 and heat-shock Protein 70 from chromoplasts of Narcissus pseudonarcissus (involvement of heat-shock Protein 70 in a soluble protein complex containing phytoene desaturase). Plant Physiology 111:931-939.
  • Burkhardt P, Beyer P, Wunn J, Kloti A, Armstrong G, Schledz M, von Lintig J, Potrykus I (1997) Transgenic rice (Oryza sativa) endosperm expressing daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) phytoene synthase accumulates phytoene, a key intermediate of provitamin A biosynthesis. Plant J 11:1071-1078.
  • Hoa TTC, Al-Babili S, Schaub P, Potrykus I, Beyer P (2003) Golden indica and japonica rice lines amenable to deregulation. Plant Physiology 133:161-169.
  • Hundle B, Beyer P, Kleinig H, Englert G, Hearst J (1991) Carotenoids of Erwinia herbicola and an Escherichia coli HB101 strain carrying the Erwinia herbicola carotenoid gene cluster. Photochem Photobiol 54:89-93.
  • Hundle B, O'Brien D, Alberti M, Beyer P, Hearst J (1992) Functional expression of zeaxanthin glucosyltransferase from Erwinia herbicola and a proposed uridine diphosphate binding site. PNAS 89:9321-9325.
  • Hundle B, O'Brien D, Beyer P, Kleinig H, Hearst J (1993) In vitro expression and activity of lycopene cyclase and beta-carotene hydroxylase from Erwinia herbicola. FEBS Lett 315:329-34.
  • Mayer M, Beyer P, Kleinig H (1990) Quinone compounds are able to replace molecular oxygen as terminal electron acceptor in phytoene desaturation in chromoplasts of Narcissus pseudonarcissus L. Eur J Biochem 191:359-363.
  • Nievelstein V, Vandekerchove J, Tadros M, Lintig J, Nitschke W, Beyer P (1995) Carotene desaturation is linked to a respiratory redox pathway in Narcissus pseudonarcissus chromoplast membranes. Involvement of a 23- kDa oxygen-evolving-complex-like protein. Eur J Biochem 233:864-872.
  • Rabbani S, Beyer P, Lintig Jv, Hugueney P, Kleinig H (1998) Induced beta-carotene synthesis driven by triacylglycerol deposition in the unicellular alga Dunaliella bardawil. Plant Physiology 116:1239-1248.
  • Schaub P, Al-Babili S, Beyer P (2005) Why is Golden Rice golden (yellow) and not red. Plant Physiology 138:441- 450.pdf
  • Schledz M, Al-Babili S, von Lintig J, Haubruck H, Rabbani S, Kleinig H, Beyer P (1996) Phytoene synthase from Narcissus pseudonarcissus: functional expression, galactolipid requirement, topological distribution in chromoplasts and induction during flowering. Plant J 10:781-792.
  • Schledz M, Seidler A, Beyer P, Neuhaus G (2001) A novel phytyltransferase from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 involved in tocopherol biosynthesis. FEBS Lett 499:15-20.
  • Welsch R, Beyer P, Hugueney P, Kleinig H, von Lintig J (2000) Regulation and activation of phytoene synthase, a key enzyme in carotenoid biosynthesis, during photomorphogenesis. Planta 211:846-854.
  • Welsch R, Medina J, Giuliano G, Beyer P, Von Lintig J (2003) Structural and functional characterization of the phytoene synthase promoter from Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta 216:523-534.
  • Ye X, Al-Babili S, Klöti A, Zhang J, Lucca P, Beyer P, Potrykus I (2000) Engineering the provitamin A (beta-carotene) biosynthetic pathway into (carotenoid-free) rice endosperm. Science 287:303-305. pdf
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