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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Genetic Engineering to Enhance Crop-Based Phytonutrients (Nutraceuticals) to Alleviate Diet-Related Diseases

item Mattoo, Autar
item Shukla, Vijaya
item Fatima, Tahira
item Handa, Avtar
item Yachha, Surender

Submitted to: Bio-Farms for Nutraceuticals: Functional Food and Safety Control by Biosensors
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/14/2009
Publication Date: 11/30/2010
Citation: Mattoo, A.K., Shukla, V., Fatima, T., Handa, A.K., Yachha, S.K. 2010. Genetic Engineering to Enhance Crop-Based Phytonutrients (Nutraceuticals) to Alleviate Diet-Related Diseases. In: Giardi, M.T., Rea, G., and Berra, B., editors. Bio-Farms for Nutraceuticals: Functional Food and Safety Control by Biosensors. Austin, TX: Landes Bioscience, Springer. p. 122-143.

Interpretive Summary: Plant nutrients (phytonutrients) are now recognized as important determinants of human health. This has catalyzed investigations into broader aspects of plant-based nutrients, also called nutraceuticals. A common goal of such studies is to enable dietary intervention in human health to prevent human diseases. There is a need for a better understanding of the relationship between dietary intervention and disease progression to develop fundamental understanding of disease-related process(es) impacted by one or more dietary constituent. Databases are growing with information on the content of phytonutrients in edible vegetables and fruits as well as with genetic technology applied for enhancing the nutritional content of vegetable crops and fruits via engineering of specific metabolic pathways. Genetic technology has been found powerful in enhancing nutrients as well as depleting offending chemicals (that cause allegenic reactions in humans). In this invited book chapter,we summarize examples of the application of genetic biotechnology approaches in enhancing the levels of various phytonutrients (nutraceuticals) in cereal, vegetable and fruit crops. The information described in this chapter represents a source of current knowledge on the subject matter will be equally useful to nutritionists, biologists, medical practitioners and agriculturists.

Technical Abstract: Nutrition studies have provided unambiguous evidence that a number of human health maladies including chronic coronary artery, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, and age- and lifestyle-related diseases are associated with the diet. Several favorable and a few deleterious natural dietary ingredients have been identified that predispose human populations to various genetic and epigenetic based disorders. Media dissemination of this information has greatly raised public awareness of the beneficial effects due to increased consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereals - foods rich in phytonutrients, protein and fiber. However, the presence of intrinsically low levels of the beneficial phytonutrients in the available genotypes of crop plants is not always at par with the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for different phytonutrients (nutraceuticals). Molecular engineering of crop plants has offered a number of tools to markedly enhance intracellular concentrations of some of the beneficial nutrients, levels that, in some cases, are closer to the RDA threshold. This review brings together literature on various strategies utilized for bioengineering both major and minor crops to increase the levels of desirable phytonutrients while also decreasing the concentrations of deleterious metabolites. Some of these include increases in: protein level in potato; lysine in corn and rice; methionine in alfalfa; carotenoids (ß-carotene, phytoene, lycopene, zeaxanthin and lutein) in rice, potato, canola, tomato; choline in tomato; folates in rice, corn, tomato and lettuce; vitamin C in corn and lettuce; polyphenolics such as flavonol , isoflavone, resveratrol, chlorogenic acid and other flavonoids in tomato; anthocyanin levels in tomato and potato; a-tocopherol in soybean, oil seed, lettuce and potato; iron and zinc in transgenic rice. Also, molecular engineering has succeeded in considerably reducing the levels of the offending protein glutelin in rice, offering a new beginning for the development of super-low glutelin rice for celiac disease patients.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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