- Thiamin is essential for human health. While plants are the ultimate source of thiamin in most human diets, staple foods like white rice have low thiamin content. Therefore, populations whose diets are mainly based on low-thiamin staple crops suffer from thiamin deficiency. Biofortification of rice grain by engineering the thiamin biosynthesis pathway has recently been attempted, with up to fivefold increase in thiamin content in unpolished seeds. However, polished seeds that retain only the starchy endosperm had similar thiamin content than that of non-engineered plants. Various factors such as limited supply of precursors, limited activity of thiamin biosynthetic enzymes, dependence on maternal tissues to supply thiamin, or lack of thiamin stabilizing proteins may have hindered thiamin increase in the endosperm.