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Human health from analysis of plant genomes

R.J. Henry

Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia


Diet is a major determinant of human health. The composition of foods and their association with human health and disease has been largely based upon traditional chemical analysis of food composition. Advances in molecular biology, especially in analysis of plant genomes, provides an opportunity to explore this issue in new ways. An understanding of co-evolution of human and food genomes can explain the impact of specific food genes in human populations and the changes that have accompanied domestication of food organisms. Recent analysis of the rice genome has revealed the genetic basis of important flavour and food quality traits. We can now predict many of these attributes by analysis of DNA sequences. Food preferences are determined by the attractiveness of the food. This research demonstrates the need to combine genes for desirable flavour and texture with genes for appropriate nutritional content if we are to achieve positive health outcomes for human populations.

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