Scientists have long known that humans require certain levels of particular nutrients - vitamins, minerals, and protein - for optimal growth, development, and long-term health. While people in wealthy nations have ready access to a wide variety of foods that provide the nutrients we need, much of the world subsists on a limited variety of calorie-rich, nutrient-poor staple crops such as rice and cassava.
The goal of biofortification research is to directly enhance the nutritional content of staple foods in order to provide the vitamins, minerals, and protein that people need in crops they already grow. Some examples of approaches in biofortification research are the manipulation of enzyme levels in biosynthesis pathways to increase levels of accumulated vitamins, higher expression of the molecular “pumps” that allow plants to take up more minerals from the soil, and elevation of protein content by integration of genes from protein-rich crops such as beans into the staple food crops.
Labs conducting research in this area include:
Ivan Baxter Lab
Roger Beachy Lab
Office of International Programs