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Agricultural Approaches to Human Health through Understanding Soil-Plant-Human/Animal Food Systems


Study important health-related elements (e.g., Fe, Zn, Cd, Se, Cu, Mn, Ca, and B) in major food crops to better understand their chemistry and availability in soil, movement in the rhizosphere, absorption by roots, and translocation to and deposition in edible portions; and, to use this knowledge to manipulate these processes to enhance the nutritional quality and safety of major plant foods.

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The chemistry and availability of nutritionally-important trace elements (e.g., Zn, Cu, Cd) will be studied in soils including effects of soil- carbonates, chloride, and phosphate fertilization on Cd accumulation in durum wheat grain from producing areas. Wheat genotypes will be studied for differences in Cd accumulation in grain and for responses to Zn fertilization. Mechanisms of whole plant absorption, homeostasis, redistribution, and deposition in edible portions of both essential & toxic elements will be studied in major food crops using physiological approaches at the whole plant and organ level. The regulatory processes controlling the movement to roots, and absorption, translocation, and storage of both essential (e.g., Fe, Zn, and Se) and toxic (e.g., Cd) elements will be studied (including the role of plant hormones) using single gene mutants and wild-type genotypes. Processes controlling micronutrient uptake efficiency in cereals (e.g., wheat, rice and corn) and legumes (e.g., beans) will be studied using efficient and inefficient genotypes.

Kochian, Leon
USDA - Agricultural Research Service
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