Navigation Links
New way to produce high-vitamin corn could improve nutrition in developing countries
Date:1/17/2008

Scientists have developed a potentially powerful new tool in the fight against deficiencies in dietary vitamin A, which cause eye diseases, including blindness, in 40 million children annually, and increased health risks for about 250 million people, mostly in developing countries.

This tool consists of "a new method of analyzing the genetic makeup of corn that will enable developing countries to identify and increase cultivation of corn that has naturally high levels of vitamin A precursors," says Ed Buckler, a co-leader of the research team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and Cornell University

Corn is an essential part of the diets of hundreds of millions of people around the world, many of whom live in developing countries. Regular consumption by adults and children of adequate quantities of corn high in vitamin A precursors, which are converted in the human body into vitamin A, would reduce their chances of developing vitamin A deficiencies and associated health problems.

This new method of increasing cultivation of high-vitamin corn is designed to tap the natural genetic diversity of corn. It was developed by a team led by Buckler and Torbert Rocheford of the University of Illinois, and was partially funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF). It will be described in the January 18, 2007 edition of Science.

"In a field of thousands of ears of corn, each ear has a slightly different genetic makeup and resulting differences in physical characteristics, including levels of vitamin A precursors -- just like every person in a crowd has a slightly different genetic makeup and associated physiological differences," explains James Collins, assistant director for the Biological Sciences Directorate at NSF. But only a very small percentage of corn crops are genetically programmed to have naturally high levels of vitamin A precursors, and these high-vitamin ears cannot be identified merely by visual inspection. "Therefore, identifying crops that have high levels of vitamin A precursors has traditionally been like finding a needle in a haystack."

But the team led by Buckler and Rocheford has significantly simplified the task of sifting through that proverbial haystack. They did so by identifying genetic markers in corn that are associated with high levels of vitamin A precursors. These markers can be used by "scientists working in very basic labs in developing countries to quickly screen for local corn strains that are high in vitamin A precursors," says Buckler. Then, these high-vitamin strains may be bred, cultivated and consumed by local people.

Corn is the dominant subsistence crop in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, where 17 to 30 percent of children under age five are vitamin A deficient, says Buckler. Because corn is consumed for all three meals a day in much of Africa, it is a good target for vitamin biofortification, he added.

Buckler says that his team's method for analyzing the genetic makeup of corn is "much simpler and faster and up to 1,000-fold cheaper" than running the types of chemical tests that were previously available for identifying corn high in vitamin A precursors. He expects it to significantly accelerate the vitamin biofortification of corn crops.

The Buckler and Rocheford team is currently working with various international organizations, such as CIMMYT (the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, to help train plant breeders in developing countries to use their techniques.

Buckler says that this new method of increasing cultivation of high-vitamin corn was made possible by recent breakthroughs in statistical analyses and the advent of rapid DNA sequencers -- instruments that are used to automate genetic profiling of crops. The researchers expect this new method to have broad applications beyond corn improvement.


'/>"/>

Contact: Ed Buckler
esb33@cornell.edu
607-255-4620
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Biocapture surfaces produced for study of brain chemistry
2. Fresh-cut produce washing practices can minimize food-borne illness risks
3. Chemical compound present in detergents produce bacteria alterations in agricultural soils
4. Researchers examine worlds potential to produce biodiesel
5. Alternative food networks connect ethical producers and consumers and can lead to healthier eating
6. Coal and black liquor can produce energy from papermaking
7. Lipoic acid could reduce atherosclerosis, weight gain
8. Selective restraints and reduced medication could reduce nursing home falls says 4-year study
9. New discovery could reduce the health risk of high-fat foods
10. Deep-sea species loss could lead to oceans collapse, study suggests
11. New technique could dramatically lower costs of DNA sequencing
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/3/2016)... , February 3, 2016 ... market research report "Automated Fingerprint Identification System Market by ... Search), Application (Banking & Finance, Government, Healthcare, and Transportation) ... MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth USD ... 21.0% between 2015 and 2020. The transformation and technology ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 2016 http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ... "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by ... Software Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and ... - Global forecast to 2020" report ... http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ) has announced the addition of ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016 This BCC Research ... market by reviewing the recent advances in high ... drive the field forward. Includes forecast through 2019. ... the challenges and opportunities that exist in the ... solution developers, as well as IT and bioinformatics ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... Columbia and MENLO PARK, Calif. ... (OTCQX: DMPI) ("DelMar" and the "Company"), a biopharmaceutical company focused ... announced that it will present at the 18 th ... February 8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. EST in ... , DelMar,s president and CEO, will provide an update on ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Franz Inc. , an early innovator ... been recognized As “ Best in Semantic Web Technology - USA & Leader ... it’s our priority to showcase prominent professionals who are excelling in their industry ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016  With the growing need for ... is underway, therapies such as monoclonal antibodies, recombinant ... host of indications are in high demand. Conventionally ... development and production of these therapeutics. However, due ... high costs, novel approaches and novel expression systems ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... ... February 03, 2016 , ... ProMIS Neurosciences is currently in ... to misfolded, propagating strains of Amyloid beta involved in Alzheimer’s disease. The Company ... , Following on from the first misfolded Amyloid beta target announced on Nov. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: