Biotechnology's Potential to Improve Seed
Composition Outlined By
June 16, 2009
Biotechnology offers a realistic means to not only improve important
seed components, but also to boost the overall nutritional quality of seeds,
according to a recently published book edited and partly written by
Krishnan, an Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientist.
The book, "Modification of Seed Composition to Promote Health and
Nutrition," can serve as a textbook for students as well as a primer for
scientists, according to Krishnan, a molecular biologist at the
Plant Genetics Research Unit in Columbia, Mo.
Published by the Crop Science Society
of America, the new book contains the most up-to-date information on
biotechnological improvements of seed composition from some of the world's
leading scientists in the field.
Biotechnology holds promise to help improve food production to deal
with the world's growing population, according to Krishnan. Food production
will have to be increased significantly over the next 40 years to feed the
predicted world population of 9 billion people by 2050.
Krishnan and his collaborator Joseph Jez at
Washington University in St. Louis also
wrote a chapter in the book, titled "Sulfur Assimilation and Cysteine
Biosynthesis in Soybean Seeds: Towards Engineering Sulfur Amino Acid Content."
In that chapter, Krishnan wrote about his work on soybeans, which are an
excellent source of protein for humans and animals. The protein quality of
soybeans could be enhanced by using genetic engineering to increase the sulfur
amino acid content of the beans, which would greatly improve their nutritive
Krishnan and his research team have created transgenic soybean plants
that express a protein from maize that is rich in the essential amino acid
methionine. Krishnan and other scientists are currently manipulating key
enzymes involved in sulfur assimilation in soybeans, thereby boosting
methionine levels in this important crop. According to Krishnan, methionine is
important in human health because it is a raw material for protein synthesis
and indirectly regulates a variety of cellular processes.
More information on the book can be found at the
Crop Science Society of America website.
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.