Thursday, April 28, 2011

What is Metabolomics?

Continued from Yesterday

Improved Crops as Sources of Healthier Foods

Most of what we eat on a global scale is plant-based—in some cultures, exclusively so. Crop plants and their products therefore are hugely important to human health through their contribution to our daily diet. At all points in the crop production chain—from breeder to supermarket—there is a demand for better products and metabolomics has the potential to help us achieve this.

Metabolomics will help us define in greater detail what exactly we are eating and how this is influenced. Metabolomics will also help us identify key biomarkers naturally present that we need in order to understand and monitor the interaction between food intake/uptake and human health. With such knowledge we will then be in a better position to design food production systems better suited to modern dietary needs.

Metabolomics is predicted to become a cornerstone in this field and will be exploited to advance breeding strategies and generate foodstuffs with optimal nutritional composition and meeting consumer quality desires. Furthermore, the food industry is continually in search of improved processing strategies to maintain quality, reduce loss and extend shelf life/stability. Metabolomics has a role to play here also and while the technology is still in a phase of development, applications are already in place.

The next installment of this article, will present three cases for the use of metabolomics. Please check back on Monday, April 25 for the second part of this three part series.

About the author: Gerard Klein Essink, MSc, is managing director of Bridge2Food in The Netherlands, and Dr. Robert D. Hall is managing director of Centre for BioSystems Genomics CBSG2012, Plant Research International, also in The Netherlands.

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