The ongoing scientific innovation in the world needs great promises to meet the food needs. Nowadays, there is an urgent need to increase food production without the expansion of cultivable lands. Let’s explore in this article the impact of genomics on nutrition.
The increase in the food supply is possible only by decreasing the losses caused by pests and diseases, and postharvest losses. Genomic sciences can help both classical and transgenic approaches for the improvement of foods. It will also impact areas like food quality and safety.
Related: Types of Genetic Testing
Impact of Genomics on Nutrition
Agribusiness companies are inspecting genomics as another point of interest. It will be very helpful for the production of new chemical pesticides or other biological control agents. After knowing the whole sequence genome, scientists are also manipulating tools for gene expression.
1. Genomics identifies the key biomolecules
The aim of genomic techniques is to characterize the key biomolecules that control a specific biological process. If all mRNAs (genomics), proteins (proteomics), or metabolites (metabolomics) are identified, then the potential links between the data can be gathered through bioinformatics.
Therefore, the major goal for the genomics impact on nutrition over at least the next 25–50 years will be to correlate data on the DNA sequence of each gene. One of the post-genome challenges can be the interpretation of the vast amount of new data.
2. Genomics can accelerate the food production
The main impact that genomics techniques will have on nutrition is to accelerate its production and make it more accurate. Transgenic technology cannot handle the essential quantitative traits and genetic transformation of some foods.
3. Genomics delivers various desired characters
Genomics techniques offer a more effective way to incorporate germplasm via marker-assisted selection to clear up the genetic bases of traits with complex inheritances. It also identifies the optimal germplasm for specific nutrition purposes. It monitors response to the selection and breeding progress. The knowledge of the genome organization and its special functions will help the identification of plant material with a desired combination of traits. So, genomics impact nutrition with various desired characters available.
Genomics includes taking genes from one species and inserting them into another to transfer a desired trait or feature. Scientists have introduced genes isolated from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals, or even humans into plants.
Crops that are resistant to pests and produce foods that are tastier or more nutritious have been genetically engineered. Modification of plants also occurs to produce specific compounds, like industrial oils, plastics, enzymes, and even drugs and vaccines.
4. Genomics impact on the incorporation of health nutrients
Genomics identifies the desired genes which will benefit the incorporation of healthy nutrients. Moreover, transgenic technology can also develop itself into a more precise and controlled technology. Microarray technologies help in the identification of the promoters that meet specific quantitative, temporal, tissue-specific, or cell-specific gene expressions.
There is so much concern about the possible effects of transgenic plants, the use of genomics, and proteomics to improve the rate of nutrition for not only the current era but also for the upcoming generation. Metabolomics, too, provides a nonbiased screen to assess any possible changes associated with the recombinant plant.
5. Genomics enhance the quality of food products
Genomics has the capability to greatly enrich the availability and quality of food products. A large number of different plant species grow merely for food. Many more plants that are not even cultivated produce secondary metabolites of medicinal and nutritive interest. It is not feasible, sometimes, to carry out the sequencing of every food of interest. The challenge to agricultural plant scientists is to disturb the databases generated for rice, and maize for the genetic improvement of non-model crop species.
6. Genomics provide food security
When it comes to diet, rice alone is the main staple food for half of the world, while pearl millet, maize, or wheat sustains the food requirements of the remaining half. The genomic sequence of rice is already available. The next logical step is to develop strategies and tools to quickly isolate genes in cereals, knowing their function, and determining their potential role to provide food security and nutritional value.
7. Genomics can provide fingerprinting of food materials
Genomics has a great impact in providing “fingerprinting” of plant materials. These fingerprints use to determine the species and cultivars of given plants. It is also used to check the quality and authenticity of foods, whether a given plant product is or derives from a GMO. Read the Benefits and Risks of GM Foods
Functional proteomics help in the identification of marker proteins that use as indicators of plant conditions and aging, indicators of genomic traits such as disease resistance, abiotic plant or root stress, and plant growth. Fingerprints of plants are also used as quality indicators for the screening of raw materials.
What are the major goals of nutritional genomics?
Microbial genomics directly links to food production. Molecular genetic methods help detect, identify, and classify plant pathogens and food-borne pathogenic bacteria. It is also used for biological control of agricultural pests, and microorganisms.
Whole-genome information can improve industrial and food-related microorganisms. The main focus of nutritional genomics is to identify and isolate genes required for the synthesis of a target compound desired in the human diet.
Scientists mainly concentrate on vitamins such as folate and vitamins E, B6, and A, and minerals like iron, calcium, selenium, and iodine. In the past, breeding programs largely overlooked the micronutrient composition and density of crops. For many foods’ secondary metabolites, including those of utmost nutritional importance, gene identification has given way to molecular genetic approaches.
For instance, Arabidopsis mutants alter the production of carotenoids, flavonoids, tocopherols, and ascorbic acid and have been used to establish the genetic basis for their production. Scientists are also performing research on the health-promoting secondary metabolites, like anti-carcinogenic or infection-inhibiting compounds. But, the research has not reached the stage of development of micronutrients as the best-known plants produce a very small amount.
There is a need to ensure that agricultural production should meet the goal of feeding the world. While experiencing increasing human population growth and severe effects from climate change, genomics plays an important role. Genomics maximizes the utility, diversity, and yield of resources. It also contributes to sustaining food security in the future.
Feeding the world is a scientific and humanitarian enterprise that involves efforts, starting with farmers and breeders. Although the challenges are substantial, there is a great deal of promise to increase the efficiency and productivity of food. Genomics is a powerful tool that we have at our disposal.
Related: Top 10 Foods You Should Buy Organic
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