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Humanitarian Board Member Prof Ingo Potrykus


Golden Rice Humanitarian Board

Ingo Potrykus
Ingo Potrykus is the engine behind the Golden Rice Project and the Humanitarian Board. Together with Peter Beyer he was one of the inventors of the Golden Rice technology. Since his retirement as a professor in 1999, and far from settling down and quietly enjoying his pension, he has devoted enormous and selfless efforts to bring biofortified Golden Rice to those who need it.

Prof Potrykus was born 1933 in Hirschberg, Silesia, Germany.

He has been married since 1960, and has three children and eight grandchildren.

He conducted studies in Zoology, Botany, Genetics, Biochemistry, Philosophy, Physical Education at Universities, in Cologne and Erlangen.

1968 - PhD in Plant Genetics at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany.

1982 - Habilitation in Botany at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

1970-74 - Assistant Professor, Institute of Plant Physiology, Stuttgart-Hohenheim.

1974-76 - Research Group Leader, Max-Planck-Institute for Genetics, Ladenburg-Heidelberg.

1976-86 - Research Group Leader, Friedrich Miescher-Institute, Basel, Switzerland.

1986-99 - Full Professor in Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich.

From 1974 on his research focussed on plant-science-based contributions to food security in developing countries. Development and application of genetic engineering technology for and to "food security" crops such as rice (Oryza sativa), wheat (Triticum aestivum), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), and cassava (Manihot esculenta). Focusing on problems difficult to solve with traditional techniques and in the areas of disease and pest resistance, improved food quality, improved yield, improved exploitation of natural resources, and improved biosafety. This work was performed by an international team of (in average) 60 coworkers financed from competitive grants and core funding. The Golden Rice project, initiated in 1991 with a PhD project was possible only because of that core funding situation. Detals of the science can be found in ca 340 publications in refereed journals and ca 30 international patents.

Teaching activities included lectures and courses in basic and advanced plant biology and plant biotechnology in the faculties of Biology, Agronomy, Pharmacy, Forestry, Environmental Sciences as well as International Training Courses, eg EMBO.

Awards include:

  • KUMHO (ISPMB) Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology 2000.
  • American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Leadership in Science Public Service Award 2001.
  • Crop Science of America (CSSA)
  • Klepper Endowment Lectureship 2001,
  • CSSA PresidentÂ’s Award 2002,
  • European Culture Award in Science 2002,
  • Honorary Doctor, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 2002.
  • Member of the Pontifical Academy of Science of the Vatican.
  • Member Academia Europaea, World Technology Network, Swiss Academy of Technical Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


  • 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.
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