Ingo Potrykus

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Ingo Potrykus
Born (1933-12-05) 5 December 1933 (age 89)
Alma materUniversity of Cologne
Scientific career
InstitutionsETH Zurich

Ingo Potrykus (born 5 December 1933) is Professor Emeritus of Plant Sciences at the Institute of Plant Sciences of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich from which he retired in 1999. His research group applied gene technology to contribute to food security in developing countries. Together with Peter Beyer, he is one of the co-inventors of golden rice. In 2014 he was chairman of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board.[1]


Potrykus was born on 5 December 1933 in Germany. He studied biology at the University of Cologne and earned his doctorate at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany. After several years at the Institute of Plant Physiology, University of Hohenheim, he became research group leader at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Genetics. Ladenburg, Germany.[2] In 1976 he transferred to Basel, Switzerland to establish the area of plant genetic engineering at the Friedrich Miescher Institute.[1] In 1986 he became professor of plant sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, concentrating on the Biotechnology of Plants.[3] He retired from this institute in 1999 at the age of 65.[4]


Motivated by the upcoming food crisis problem of malnutrition in developing countries and the potential of gene technology to contribute to food security, Potrykus and his research group dedicated their work to genetic engineering projects aimed at improving yield stability and food quality of crops such as rice, wheat, millet, sorghum, and cassava.[5] The most significant development so far has been the creation of golden rice, a new rice variety providing vitamin A. This strain of rice is widely seen as the model example of how to sustainably reduce malnutrition in developing countries. Potrykus began thinking about using genetic engineering to improve the nutritional qualities of rice in the late 1980s. He knew that of some 3 billion people who depend on rice as their staple crop, around 10% risk some level of vitamin A deficiency. This problem interested Potrykus for numerous reasons, including the scientific challenge of transferring not just a single gene, but a group of genes that represented a key part of a biochemical pathway. In 1993, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, Potrykus teamed up with Peter Beyer and they launched what would become a seven-year, $2.6 million project to develop Golden Rice.[6]

Since his retirement in 1999, Ingo Potrykus - as president of the International Humanitarian Golden Rice Board - has devoted his energy to guiding Golden Rice towards subsistence farmers across the many hurdles of a GMO-crop. To this end he has been established collaboration with 14 rice institutions in India, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Philippines. In 2013 Potrykus met the Pope who offered his personal blessing to Golden Rice although the Pope was concerned that genetic modification benefited big business rather than the poor.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Potrykus has been married since 1960 to Inge Heilingbrunner.[8] He has three children and eight grandchildren.[1]


  • 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.
  • Beyer P, Al-Babili S, Ye X, Lucca P, Schaub P, Welsch R, Potrykus I (2002) Golden Rice: Introducing the {beta}-Carotene Biosynthesis Pathway into Rice Endosperm by Genetic Engineering to Defeat Vitamin A Deficiency. J. Nutr. 132:506S-510.
  • 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.
  • Futterer J, Potrykus I, Bao Y, Li L, Burns T, Hull R, Hohn T (1996) Position-dependent ATT initiation during plant pararetrovirus rice tungro bacilliform virus translation. J. Virol. 70:2999-3010.
  • Futterer J, Rothnie H, Hohn T, Potrykus I (1997) Rice tungro bacilliform virus open reading frames II and III are translated from polycistronic pregenomic RNA by leaky scanning. J. Virol. 71:7984-7989.
  • 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.
  • Kloti A, He X, Potrykus I, Hohn T, Futterer J (2002) Tissue-specific silencing of a transgene in rice. PNAS 99:10881-10886.
  • Lucca P, Hurrell R, Potrykus I (2002) Fighting Iron Deficiency Anemia with Iron-Rich Rice. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 21:184S-190.
  • Paszkowski U, Zhang S, Potrykus I, Paszkowski J (1993) Replication of the DNA A component of African cassava mosaic virus in a heterologous system. J. Gen. Virol. 74:2725-2729.
  • Pietrzak M, Shillito R, Hohn T, Potrykus I (1986) Expression in plants of two bacterial antibiotic resistance genes after protoplast transformation with a new plant expression vector. Nucleic Acids Res. 14:5857-5868.
  • Potrykus I (2001) Golden Rice and Beyond. Plant Physiology 125:1157-1161.
  • Schlaman H, Gisel A, Quaedvlieg N, Bloemberg G, Lugtenberg B, Kijne J, Potrykus I, Spaink H, Sautter C (1997) Chitin oligosaccharides can induce cortical cell division in roots of Vicia sativa when delivered by ballistic microtargeting. Development 124:4887-4895.
  • Ye X, Al-Babili S, Klöti A, Zhang J, Lucca P, Beyer P, Potrykus I (2000) Engineering the Provitamin A (β-Carotene) Biosynthetic Pathway into (Carotenoid-Free) Rice Endosperm. Science 287:303-305.

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f (2014) Golden Rice Project, Golden Rice Humanitarian Board Official web page of the Golden Rice Project, Retrieved 2 March 2014
  2. ^ Prof. Ingo Potrykus, CV FBAE, Retrieved 2 March 2014
  3. ^ Newton, David "DNA Technology: A Reference Handbook" 12 November 2009, Pages 161 - 162, ABC-CLIO publishers, ISBN 978-1598843286
  4. ^ Nash, Madeleine J. (31 July 200) This Rice Could Save a Million Kids a Year Time Magazine, Retrieved 2 march 2014
  5. ^ Weasel, Lisa H. 2009. "Food Fray" Amacom Publishing, ISBN 978-0814401644
  6. ^ Robinson, Simon Grains of Hope Time Magazine, 31 July 2000. Web
  7. ^ Spady, Tyrone (January/February 2014) Pope Blesses Golden Rice Archived 2014-04-12 at the Wayback Machine ASBP News, Volume 41, Number 1, Page 11, Retrieved 2 March 2014
  8. ^ a b (2008) Ingo Potrykus Vatican Yearbook 2008, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Retrieved 2 march 2014
  9. ^ "Kumho Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology". Plant Molecular Biology Reporter. 18 (2): 93–94. 2000. doi:10.1007/BF02824009.
  10. ^ (2013) Public Affairs - ASPB Leadership in Science Public Service Award American Society of Plant Biologists, list of award winners 1998-2013, Retrieved 4 March 2014
  11. ^ a b Awards Presented in Crop Science, 2001 Ingo Potrykus, 2001 Klepper CSSA Endowment lecture and CSSA President's award, Retrieved 4 March 2014
  12. ^ a b c Staff (22 April 2012) Ingo Potrykus - Speaker Details 'BioVision Alexandria 2012', Bibliotheca Alexandrina, P.O. Box 138, Chatby, Alexandria 21526, Egypt, Retrieved 25 October 2012
  13. ^ (2005) The Top 100 Living Contributors to Biotechnology Science, Retrieved 2 March 2014
  14. ^ Jayaraman, K S et al (March 2006) Who's who in biotech Archived 2015-06-06 at the Wayback Machine Nature Biotechnology, Volume 24, Number 3, Retrieved 2 March 2004
  15. ^ (2008)Ingo Potrykus Archived 2013-01-22 at the Wayback Machine Fourth World Conference on the Future of Science “Food and Water for Life” – Venice, September 24–27, 2008, Retrieved 4 March 2014
  16. ^ (June 2012) Invitation to Prize Nomination - previous prize winners the Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Stockholm, Retrieved 2 March 2007