Consumers, policy makers and the commercial sector have become highly tuned to the need for a more balanced and nutritional diet. Plant metabolites, particularly those present in grains, fruit and vegetables play a key role in human health and wellbeing thus the improvement of nutritional composition in breeding programmes and the optimisation of nutrients in product formulations have become important targets.
This degree of continued sophistication in vertically integrated food chains will lead to demands for analytical protocols which can monitor a wide range of nutrients and metabolites to accelerate the breeding process and to identify the post harvest and processing events which may contribute most to nutritional losses. With regard to breeding, next generation GM crops are already in development with improved nutritional content (valuable for developed and developing countries). Thus high throughput protocols which provide extensive metabolite coverage will also be invaluable for stringent substantial equivalence testing where endogenous biochemical pathways are being modified in plants.
The DEVELONUTRI consortium will develop and validate state-of-the-art technologies (NMR, GC-(ToF)-MSn, LC-MSn; FT-NMR; ICP [for micro elements]) and emergent technologies and analysis platforms (MALDI-ToF-MS, FT-MS, LC-NMR, LC-ECD) to identify a set of technologies, tools and methodologies that can be deployed at all stages in the crop improvement, production and processing platforms. The validated approaches will be used to fully assess the added value of these technologies in crop and crop-based food analysis using model species which are economically and socially important in Europe.
Focus will be on Solanaceous species (tomato, potato) and cereals (wheat) and will include traditionally bred genotypes together with GMOs grown under a range of environmental conditions. Importantly, many samples will be derived from existing EU RTD networks including SAFEFOODS, EU-SOL, NOFORISK, TRUEFOODS and QLIF which provided added European value and minimises duplication.
Scientific outputs will include improved chemical databases, standard operating procedures, validated ring tested approaches and databases which facilitate the merging of data from a range of analytical approaches. Furthermore, the consortium will engage and collaborate with SMEs in the practical assessment of raw and processed materials quality using the validated analytical approaches and to ensure knowledge transfer to policy makers, the commercial sector and the consumer with regard to the value of the research outcomes in the evolution of food quality standards.
The consortium includes participants, in the form of Technology Associates, with proven metabolomics expertise in the international arena and includes the manufacturer Bruker and the renowned MD database experts NIST who can provide the skill base in emerging technologies and database development. Participants from INCO countries and emerging member states will make important contributions to the development of harmonised approached.