Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Growing Greener Greens: Research Could 'Biofortify' Cabbages And Their Relatives

Date:
October 7, 2009
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
A pioneering project to make our green vegetables even better for us has been launched by scientists in the UK. The research will underpin future technological developments in agriculture that could help fight a looming food security crisis.

New research could 'biofortify' cabbages and their relatives (Brassica) to boost dietary intakes of calcium and magnesium.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Nottingham

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 increase fracture-risks and osteoporosis. In developing countries, calcium deficiency can also cause rickets. Magnesium deficiency is linked to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.

In the UK, vegetables —excluding potatoes —provide less than one tenth of our calcium and magnesium intakes. It’s thought a relatively modest increase in the concentration of these minerals in green leafy vegetables would have a significant beneficial effect on our health. Dr Broadley says this is likely to be achievable by improving fertilizers and breeding programmes:

“Although it seems an obvious solution, we do not yet know how much calcium or magnesium fertiliser to apply to soil to optimise dietary intakes. This is because fertiliser studies tend to focus on crop yield. The ‘blue-skies’ breeding approaches rely on the fact that each different variety of Brassica represents a unique collection of variants of genes (alleles). However, just like different dog breeds, Brassica varieties are —in theory —interfertile. By crossing different varieties, and finding combinations of alleles which alter the calcium and magnesium content of plant leaves, we can inform conventional breeding programmes. The most exciting part of this project is that it builds directly on recent investment in Brassica research in the UK and elsewhere, which means we will soon have a fully-sequenced genome to work with, alongside other important resources.”

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: “Taking social and economic issues aside, the challenge we face is to produce enough nutrition for a growing global population using limited resources and without significant negative impact to the environment. There are a number of ways to approach this through bioscience research, one of which is to actually aim to increase the nutritional value of the food we are producing. Dr Broadley’s project is a good example of where UK bioscience research is taking on this challenge and his success in enriching essential minerals in cabbages, broccoli, Chinese cabbage and pak choi will be an important step in insuring against a future food security crisis.”

The four-year long project is part of a long-standing collaboration between scientists at The University of Nottingham, The University of Warwick, Rothamsted Research and the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Growing Greener Greens: Research Could 'Biofortify' Cabbages And Their Relatives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002124825.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2009, October 7). Growing Greener Greens: Research Could 'Biofortify' Cabbages And Their Relatives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002124825.htm
University of Nottingham. "Growing Greener Greens: Research Could 'Biofortify' Cabbages And Their Relatives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002124825.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins