Agriculture-to-nutrition: Improving Calcium content of crops through crop genetics to promote bone health

Swati Puranik, Gancho Slavov, Henry Ojulong, Rattan Yadav

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


As world population both grows and ages, morbidity rates due to Calcium (Ca) deficiency disorders, mainly osteoporosis, are increasing tremendously. The World Health Organization proposes osteoporosis as second major global healthcare concern after cardiovascular diseases with treatment costs forecasted to upsurge to $131.5 billion by 2050. Calcium from food sources are more bioavailable and readily absorbed by body than mineral supplements. However, most widely consumed staple crops do not have sufficient concentration of Ca and other micronutrients in their grains. Among all the cereals, finger millet is the richest source of Ca (350mg/100gm edible portions), which is 10-fold higher than brown rice (33mg), wheat (30mg) and maize (26mg). Using chemical phenotyping, we have characterised a diverse collection of finger millet germplasm for Ca and other micronutrients (iron, zinc, magnesium, sodium, potassium), and have generated 156,157 SNPs by using genotype-by sequencing. These data are being analysed using genome-wide association studies to identify genomic regions associated with accumulation of Ca and other micronutrients in finger millet grains. Genetic factors that enable higher Ca accumulation in finger millet will be compared to those of other cereals. These findings will serve as a basis for not only further improving nutritional aspects of finger millet but also other staple crops. Such crops will be a tremendous boost for smallholder farmers, agriculture sectors, and food industries. Availabilities of such crops will help develop Ca-rich functional foods and their consumption will ultimately benefit public health and reduce economic impacts of osteoporosis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 06 Sept 2016
EventGARNet 2016: Innovation in the Plant Sciences - United Kingdom, Cardiff
Duration: 06 Sept 201607 Sept 2016


ConferenceGARNet 2016
Period06 Sept 201607 Sept 2016
Internet address


  • Finger millet
  • Calcium
  • bone health
  • genotyping-by sequencing
  • Genome-wide association
  • functional food


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