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Growing greener greens
Date:10/2/2009

A pioneering project to make our green vegetables even better for us has been launched by scientists at The University of Nottingham. The research will underpin future technological developments in agriculture that could help fight a looming food security crisis.

'Greens' like cabbages and broccoli are a well-known part of a healthy diet but they don't contain as large an amount of key minerals as they might, according to the lead scientist on the project, Associate Professor of Plant Nutrition, Dr Martin Broadley. He's secured funding to carry out new research into 'biofortifying' cabbages and their relatives (Brassica) to boost dietary intakes of calcium and magnesium.

The project has been funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and a fertilizer company. It aims to enrich the edible parts of cabbages, broccoli and their more exotic cousins, Chinese cabbage and pak choi, with these minerals using conventional breeding techniques and by devising a recipe for a new type of fertilizer. Dr Broadley says the research could make a real difference to human health worldwide:

"This project is an exciting opportunity which could ultimately deliver real dietary benefits for the UK and globally. Recent studies have shown that leafy Brassica crops are excellent targets for biofortification with calcium and magnesium, even where vegetable consumption is relatively low, such as in the UK. By combining fertiliser-use with the development of more 'blue-skies' conventional breeding tools, we hope that this project will bring benefits in both the short and longer-terms, as well as improve our understanding of plants."

All of us require 22 essential minerals to live. These minerals can be supplied by a balanced and varied diet. Yet billions of people worldwide consume insufficient minerals, including calcium and magnesium. Since most calcium is stored in bones, calcium-deficient diets can reduce bone strength and incr
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Contact: Emma Rayner
emma.rayner@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-15793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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