About this Research Topic
Plants are the main source of calories for humans, yet only a handful of species are used for human consumption. Rice, wheat, corn, beans, cassava, potato, sweet potato, sugar beets, and others, are the dietary base for the world’s population and represent important food staples for low-income communities. Besides being energy-dense and carbohydrate-rich, these crops are also an important entry point into the human diet for micronutrients, vitamins and trace elements (both essential and toxic). Thus, breeding efforts aimed at improving crop nutrition and/or avoiding accumulation of hazardous elements have direct impacts on human health.
It has been almost two decades since the first papers on biofortification were published, and flagship programs such as HarvestPlus were launched. Using a variety of plant modification strategies, including conventional breeding and genetic engineering, more nutritious crop varieties with higher amounts of vitamin A, iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn), the three micronutrients identified by the WHO as most lacking in human diets globally, have been generated. Through this work many genes and pathways important for nutrient accumulation in the edible parts of crop plants have been described and their potential uses for biotechnological application have been demonstrated. However, to date only a few biofortified crops are grown for human consumption, highlighting the fact that transfer of basic research into final products is still necessary.
In this Research Topic we highlight achievements in the fields of biofortification and plant nutrition aimed at increasing the nutritional quality of crops, and describe ongoing challenges facing the plant community in this area. We are interested in manuscripts dealing with the evaluation/prevalence/status of micronutrient malnutrition worldwide, including epidemiologic studies and clinical trials, and showing how biofortified crops could help at risk-populations. We are also interested in manuscripts demonstrating how different strategies can be applied to increase the nutritional value of food crops, ranging from agronomical practices to genetic engineering and new and existing plant breeding technologies (oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis, cisgenesis and intragenesis, grafting, reverse breeding, synthetic genomics, etc). We also welcome studies showcasing how the inorganic composition of plants, also known as the ionome, is integrated, and how it can be manipulated for biofortification/food safety purposes. Papers pertaining to the legislature hurdles for the adoption of genetically engineered biofortified crops and consumer acceptability of such crops, are also welcome. Finally, we encourage the submission of work pointing to future directions, including problems not adequately addressed by the community or those deserving attention in the coming years. We welcome all types of articles, such as original research articles, method papers, comprehensive reviews, mini-reviews, perspective articles and thought-provoking opinions.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.