Biopharmaceutical protein production under controlled environments: Growth, development, and vaccine productivity of transgenic tomato plants grown hydroponically in a greenhouse

Ryo Matsuda, Chieri Kubota, M. Lucrecia Alvarez, Guy A. Cardineau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Biopharmaceutical protein production is a new application of plant biotechnology. Nevertheless, there is limited information for potential protein productivity in commercial production operation. The objective of this study was to characterize the growth and development as well as fruit and protein productivities of transgenic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants in comparison with two nontransgenic reference cultivars under greenhouse conditions with commercially adopted cultural practice. Transgenic tomatoes expressing a predominant antigen fusion protein, F1-V, against plague were used as a model system. Three types of tomatoes were grown for this study: 1) a transgenic T2 line, 'F1-V'; 2) the background wild-type cultivar, TA234; and 3) a commercial greenhouse cultivar well adopted in North America, Durinta. All plants were grown hydroponically in a greenhouse equipped with heating and evaporative cooling systems for 24 to 30 weeks. When comparing 'F1-V' with 'TA234', there were no significant differences in growth, cumulative fruit yield, fruit total soluble protein (TSP) concentration, nor cumulative TSP production between the two genotypes. Although there was a difference in plant leaf morphology, this suggests that the transformation event did not affect the key traits of biopharmaceutical protein production. When comparing 'F1-V' with 'Durinta', 'Durinta' yielded more fruit than did 'F1-V', although final vegetative biomass of the two genotypes was not significantly different. Cumulative fruit yield per plant of 'Durinta' for 13 weeks of harvest was almost twice that of 'F1-V'. However, TSP concentration of fruits of 'Durinta' was only 12% to 34% of that of 'F1-V', making the estimated cumulative TSP production by fruits approximately half that of 'Durinta'. Our results suggest that biomass productivity is not necessarily the highpriority trait in selecting cultivars for high-value protein production and that protein concentration of fruits may be an important factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1594-1599
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009



  • Controlled environment agriculture
  • Edible vaccine
  • High-value protein
  • Molecular farming
  • Plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMP)
  • Solanum lycopersicum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture

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