Plant prebiotics and human health: Biotechnology to breed prebiotic-rich nutritious food crops uri icon

abstract

  • Microbiota in the gut play essential roles in human health. Prebiotics are non-digestible complex carbohydratesthat are fermented in the colon, yielding energy and short chain fatty acids, and selectively promote the growth ofBifidobacteria and Lactobacillae in the gastro-intestinal tract. Fructans and inulin are the best-characterized plantprebiotics. Many vegetable, root and tuber crops as well as some fruit crops are the best-known sources ofprebiotic carbohydrates, while the prebiotic-rich grain crops include barley, chickpea, lentil, lupin, and wheat.Some prebiotic-rich crop germplasm have been reported in barley, chickpea, lentil, wheat, yacon, andJerusalem artichoke. A few major quantitative trait loci and gene-based markers associated with high fructanare known in wheat. More targeted search in genebanks using reduced subsets (representing diversity ingermplasm) is needed to identify accessions with prebiotic carbohydrates. Transgenic maize, potato andsugarcane with high fructan, with no adverse effects on plant development, have been bred, which suggeststhat it is feasible to introduce fructan biosynthesis pathways in crops to produce health-imparting prebiotics.Developing prebiotic-rich and super nutritious crops will alleviate the widespread malnutrition and promotehuman health. A paradigm shift in breeding program is needed to achieve this goal and to ensure thatnewly-bred crop cultivars are nutritious, safe and health promoting

publication date

  • 2014
  • 2014