Physiology of Nutrients Accumulation and Factors Affecting Biofortification

Physiology of Nutrients Accumulation and Factors Affecting Biofortification

 Factors Affecting Biofortification of plant foods has been identified as a key strategy for combating micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries. Agricultural research and breeding programs have the potential to increase the levels of essential micronutrients in crop plants by: i) increasing nutrient availability and utilization efficiency, and ii) enhancing the accumulation of these nutrients in edible plant tissues.

Early results from research into nutrigenomics have shown that foliar application or seed treatment with a combination of micronutrients can induce an over-provision of these nutrients in plants.

Physiology of Micronutrients Accumulation

The physiological mechanisms for the accumulation of micronutrients in the edible portion of plants are not well identified. Biofortification of crop plants is still in its infancy. Little is known about the physiological and biochemical mechanisms that control the uptake and accumulation of micronutrients in edible plant parts. A good understanding about these mechanisms is essentially helpful to reduce hidden hunger.

Mechanisms of cation uptake and their transport for redirection of nutrients need to be explored. Research in this area will be much successful for future applications. Limited knowledge is available regarding the distribution of micronutrients in mature seeds.

The information about the distribution of micronutrients in seed tissues can help for the localization of selective sites for micronutrients accumulations and the barriers hindering their movement (Grusak, 2002). It can give useful information for the storage of micronutrients in the seeds and their nutritional status.

It shows Fe, Zn, and Mn accumulation in distinct regions of mature seeds of cotyledons and radicles.

 Factors Affecting Biofortification

Various physiological processes such as uptake of nutrients from the rhizosphere, translocation from roots to aerial plant parts, phloem loading, and remobilization are involved in successful biofortification.  Many of these processes need to be learned properly.

Plants accumulate micronutrients when they are deficient or their requirements are increased. The intake, utilization, and storage processes may differ depending on the micronutrient involved (e.g., Na absorption differs from Fe absorption). For example, if a plant is short in Fe or Zn, it is capable of synthesizing specific phytosiderophores which are Fe/Zn-specific compounds that solubilize these micronutrients in the soil.

Socioeconomic conditions, educational standards, cultural practices, and many other factors affect the success rates of biofortification and combating micronutrient malnutrition in deprived communities. Biofortification is a target-oriented process and required good management, and scientific control measures to produce nutritionally rich foods.

Factors Affecting Biogfortification 

The biofortification strategies can be successful if the following points will be applicable

  • Breeding for high nutrient contents should be scientifically feasible.
  • Farmers should adopt the new genotypes.
  • The target for nutrient contents should be known before breeding.
  • Biofortification techniques should have a good impact on the nutritional status.
  • It should be cost-effective.
  • Awareness spreading campaigns should be started to motivate consumers for using biofortified crops.

Testing Safety Level of Biofortified Foods

The testing of the effects of biofortified products on human health and nutritional status is very rare. However, it is quite evident that it exerts positive effects on nutritional status (Rayman, 2008). In both developing and developed countries, people will prefer biofortified crops if it is not much expensive and it does not change in appearance, texture, and taste after cooking (Bouis et al., 2003).

Agriculture is essential for human well-being and the demand for plant-based foods continues to increase with rising population numbers. However, agriculture is also the main source of micronutrient malnutrition through its impact on the plant-derived food supply. Biofortification of crop plants is a complementary approach in micronutrient nutrition that has emerged over the last two decades and has been identified as a key strategy for combating micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries ( 1 ). Agricultural research and breeding programs have the potential to increase the levels of essential micronutrients in crop plants by i) increasing nutrient availability and utilization efficiency, and ii) enhancing the accumulation of these nutrients in edible plant tissues.

HarvestPlus and International Organization for Biofortification

Harvest plus is leading due to its global efforts for the development of disseminating staple food crops enriched with vitamins and essential mineral elements. It Harvest Plus is an interdisciplinary program that is active in more than 40 countries and working in collaboration with both public and private sector. Now, somehow malnutrition problem is getting major attention, and biofortified staple food crops are produced and consumed in Asian and African continents as well (Welch, 2008).

Green Revolution for Improved Yield

The contribution of earlier green revolution cropping systems is inadvertent for micronutrient deficiencies in resource-poor populations. Its production system has was never been focusing on nutrient output as an explicit goal. Our agricultural policies have fostered a greater decline in diet diversity and nutrition. In addition to that, the health and nutritional communities had never focused on using agriculture as the principal tool for improving the diet and nutritional status of human beings.

Improving Agricultural Strategies to Produce Nutritional Rich Food

The intake, utilization, and storage processes may differ depending on the micronutrient involved (e.g., Na absorption differs from Fe absorption). For example, if a plant is short in Fe or Zn, it is capable of synthesizing specific phytoncides.

Loading More Minerals and Nutrients in Plants 

For successful biofortification, the nutritional potential of soil and breeding measures should be efficient enough for the uptake and accumulation of mineral nutrients in plants (Harvestplus, 2012). Many non-profit organizations are working for the specialized addressing of malnutrition. They are governed by an international board of directors.

These organizations support fortification, supplementation, and biofortification in the areas where micronutrient malnutrition is most prevalent.  Various international organizations, agencies, industries, and governments are working together to resolve the problem of malnutrition on a viable basis, but still, there is much more to go for.

Collaboration from International Researchers and Organizations

Collaborative international interdisciplinary efforts are required to solve the problem of malnutrition. Activities taken by the international alliance of future harvest centers, extension system and national agriculture research departments, plant science and human nutrition departments in universities, advance research institutes, farmer organizations, non-government organizations, and private sector partnership can significantly help to develop an efficient system for reducing undernutrition and production of quality foods.

Biofortification Challenge Program

For the biofortification challenge program, the future harvest centers are renowned for their expertise in plant breeding and extensive germplasm banks, links to the human nutrition community, and strong ties to the national agriculture research programs. Like This: How to Make High Quality Phosphorus Fertilizer DIY

So their activities are coordinated in the proposed way. Close collaboration with other institutions offering complementary scientific expertise, experience, and skills is critical for a successful outcome. New ways of working together with external partners are needed. Under the challenge program framework, such activities are possible. But this initiative should not be system-wide.

Annual Coordination Meetings

Annual coordination meetings should be held to bring together all the collaborative organizations.

Progress on work plans, coordinate and align goals, objectives for the coming year work, identification of obstacles. The course selection and suggestions towards new solutions should be discussed.

Recommendations should be made according to strategic priorities and directions for upcoming years. The scientific rigor of the planned and executed framework should be accessed.

To reduce the travel cost significant global and regional meetings could be organized in the terms of satellite meetings.

It will also serve as an outreach component as a broader scientific and developmental community is involved in program progress.

In some parts of the world, this program has been successfully employed to raise awareness for biofortification potential to address micronutrient malnutrition.

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