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Enriching nutrient density in staple crops using modern “-Omics” Tools

Bohra, A., Jha, U.C. and Kumar, S. (2016) Enriching nutrient density in staple crops using modern “-Omics” Tools. In: Singh, U., Praharaj, C.S., Singh, S.S. and Singh, N.P., (eds.) Biofortification of Food Crops. Springer New Delhi, pp. 85-103.

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A sizeable proportion of the global population faces nutritional disorders. Notably, the poorest regions in the developing world share considerably large segment of malnourished people. Given the rising prevalence of nutritional disorders, sustainable solutions urgently need to be in place in order to tackle the menace of hidden hunger. An array of improvement strategies is suggested to meet the growing challenge. These strategies involve dietary diversification, food supplementation/fortification, and biofortification using nutritional breeding approaches, genetic engineering, and agronomic interventions. The mounting concerns about environmental safety and poor economic status of the target population further put a limit on the large-scale use of micronutrient-rich fertilizers. Hence, crop biofortification via conventional and molecular breeding stands to be the most economic, readily accessible, and globally accepted strategy. For some obvious reasons, staple crops that serve the daily dietary needs of the maximum population in the developing world are targeted for nutritional enhancement. As a prerequisite, survey of the germplasm pools is needed to quantify the exploitable genetic variation that exists in the crop gene pool. Further, modern omics approaches like genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and ionomics will definitely advance our knowledge about the genetic makeup, molecular networks, and physiological alternations involved in the process of mineral accumulation and subsequent partitioning of minerals to edible plant parts. Similarly, engineering metabolic pathways through genetic modification holds great relevance for expediting the development of nutrient-dense food crops. We expect that the “omics” assisted nutritional breeding, as the most potential biofortification strategy, will be greatly helpful in achieving the nutritional security of over two billion nutrient-deficient people worldwide.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Springer New Delhi
Copyright: © 2016 Springer India
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