Nutrition Reviews®, Vol. 57, No. 9, S19-S26
Improved Phytonutrient Content Through Plant Genetic Improvement
Mark W. Farnham, Ph.D., Philipp W. Simon, Ph.D., and John R. Stommel, Ph.D.
During the twentieth century plant breeding and genetics improved the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops, particularly of macronutrients and fiber. Current research focuses more on micronutrients. Successful development of phytonutrient-enriched crop plants will be bolstered by interdisciplinary collaborative research, analytical and biotechnological advances, and public education. Although the melding of plant and nutrition research holds great promise, the genetic enhancement of crop plants for improved phytonutrient content will be challenging. This paper reviews the knowledge base on which genetic enhancement may be based, identifies gaps in scientific knowledge and technical capacities, and suggests a role for the federal government in research.
Dr. Farnham is a Research Geneticist at USDA-ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Charleston, SC 29414, USA. Dr. Simon is Research Leader at USDA-ARS, Vegetable Crops Research, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Dr. Stommel is a Research Geneticist at USDA-ARS, Vebetable Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.