Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/20/2004
Publication Date: 1/20/2005
Citation: Grusak, M.A., Cakmak, I. 2005. Methods to improve the crop-delivery of minerals to humans and livestock. In: Broadley, M.R., White, P.J., editors. Plant Nutritional Genomics. Oxford:Blackwell Publishing. p. 265-286. Interpretive Summary: Not required for a book chapter.
Technical Abstract: Humans and other animals are immensely dependent on plant species to provide them with dietary minerals. Plants can contain a broad range of mineral elements, but concentrations in any one plant will vary depending on species, genotype, and environmental constraints. In theory, a balanced diet containing several plant food sources will provide an adequate dietary intake of all essential minerals for any given species. In practice, however, diets are not always diverse enough, or consumed in sufficient quantities, to assure adequate intake of all minerals. This situation is especially prevalent in low-income populations of the human species throughout the developing world, where total caloric intake is low, and diets are restricted to one or two staple foods that often are a poor source of several minerals. Similarly, for livestock, mineral needs for optimal growth or productivity are rarely met by plant foods alone; supplemental minerals often are added to animal feeds. To help provide higher quantities of plant-based dietary minerals, researchers have been working to enhance the mineral density of plant foods. While some gains have been realized through conventional breeding, especially for micronutrients, continued efforts to understand the molecular mechanisms and regulation of plant mineral nutrition are essential if we wish to make significant improvements in the food supply. Thankfully, genomic studies are beginning to provide us with some of the necessary knowledge and tools to effect these changes. In this chapter, we will discuss the importance of plants in the dietary food chain, why plant mineral research is important and must be expanded, and how our existing genomic (and conventional) technologies can be applied to initiate improvements in plant mineral content.